Madison quarterback Parker Jones throws over the line during the Cubs’ loss at home to Bedford North Lawrence on Friday. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Madison quarterback Parker Jones throws over the line during the Cubs’ loss at home to Bedford North Lawrence on Friday. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Madison’s offense came alive on Friday with its best game of the season, but a rare letdown by the defense and two crucial mistakes led to a 41-28 homecoming loss to Bedford North Lawrence at home.

The Cubs rang up 384 total offensive yards in the game, 328 off the arm of quarterback Parker Jones who missed the last two games due to injury, and Collin Yancey (190 yards) and Nick Center (114) both went over the century mark in receiving. The performance was even more impressive considering that Madison was missing its two top offensive weapons, running back Trenton Barnes and receiver Louis Humes, both of whom were out with injuries.

But BNL was even better, getting a monster performance from quarterback Brye Lewis, who rushed for 231 yards and added 84 more through the air as part of a 471-yard effort by the Stars.

Throw in a pick-six early in the game and a fourth and goal that just missed and the result was Madison’s 10th-straight loss dating back to last season.

“I don’t want to say we made it look easy because you want to win, but we moved the ball tonight,” Madison coach Leroy Wilson said. “The three phases of the game are what it takes to win a football game and when you get offense, defense and special teams all together as one, that’s when you know you have something special.”

The offense and special teams both imploded in a 33-0 loss to Seymour the week before, ruining a strong showing by the defense. This week, it was the defense’s turn to struggle against Bedford’s triple option.

The Stars (2-2, 2-0 Hoosier Hills) rushed for 387 yards with Lewis doing most of the damage. The strong and crafty quarterback needed only 19 attempts to rack up 231 yards and his 69-yard touchdown run in the third quarter all but sealed the win.

“That’s a quality quarterback they have there. The dude’s extremely athletic and he’s going to cause a lot of teams some problems,” Wilson said.

Two mistakes early in the game ended up costing Madison the win and forced the Cubs to play from behind the entire way.

On just the third play from scrimmage, Jones was picked off by Bedford’s Maddox Ray, who returned it 32 yards for the score and a quick 7-0 lead.

Jones shook off the rust and didn’t make another mistake, coming right back to tie the game on a 4-yard keeper.

Lewis scored his first touchdown, a 6-yard scamper, to put the Stars ahead 14-7 but Madison came right back, driving all the way down to the BNL 2-yard line where it faced fourth down. Wilson opted to go for it and freshman Garrett Gatke nearly made it, stopping right at the goal-line.

As it turned out, the interception and failed fourth-down conversion doomed the Cubs. Bedford drove 99 yards on its next possession and scored on another 6-yard run by Lewis and Madison again answered, getting a 4-yard pass from Jones to Curtis Jacobs to cut the lead to 21-14 at the half.

But Madison (0-4, 0-2 HHC) couldn’t get over the hump, despite the aerial attack of Jones, Yancey and Center. Lewis’ 69-yard score came late in the third and put the Stars ahead by two touchdowns and a 65-yard pitch and catch from Lewis to Colton Skaggs early in the fourth made it 35-14.

Madison battled back, getting a 2-yard scoring run by Jones to cut the margin to 35-21 with 9:09 to play, but down two touchdowns, the Cubs were forced to attempt an onside kick. Bedford recovered and used the short field to score on a 1-yard run by Zane Anderson for a 41-21 lead.

Madison scored one final time with 3:19 to go on another Jones run, but the Cubs failed to get the onside kick again all but ending the game.

Jones finished with 328 yards on 22-of-34 passing with Yancey grabbing 12 passes for 190 yards and Center, who caught his first varsity pass last week, catching five receptions for 114 yards.

That offensive output through the air was one of Madison’s best in nearly two decades. Mike Watson threw for 398 yards on 19-of-28 passing in a 42-27 loss to Columbus East on Sept. 28, 2001 with Danny Gibson catching 15 of those attempts for 331 yards. All totals are school records.

“The turnover bug got us last week and it usually doesn’t. But we had a very focused week of practice this week and came out strong,” Wilson said. “Our defense struggled tonight for sure, but when we get everything going on the same night, look out.”

Madison will try to break its losing streak against the team it started against when it hosts Jennings County in the annual Battle of the Railroad contest on Friday. Jennings comes into the game also winless after a 47-7 loss to Seymour last week.