By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
STANFORD—For many years the football field at Lincoln County, nicknamed “Death Valley,” lived up to that moniker, as the Patriots buried several teams that came visiting.
In recent years, the aura of “Death Valley” had lost some of its luster, as the Patriots have struggled over the past few years. But Friday night, the field claimed another victim as Lincoln County rolled over visiting South Laurel, 63-20.
The Patriots (4-4, 1-2) built a 42-6 lead by the half. The question of who would win was already answered; now it was by how much.
“We were pretty much out of it at the half,” South Laurel coach Larry Welch said.
Lincoln County established ground dominance early, led by the trio of Logan Martin, Marvin Robinson and Deonte Coulter. Robinson had 10 carries for 119 yards and three touchdowns. Logan Martin carried it 16 times for 99 yards and three scores. Coulter rushed for 77 yards on eight carries and scored twice.
“They lined up and ran it down our throats,” Welch said. “They knew they were more physical than we were.”
Both teams were hampered by turnovers. The difference being that Lincoln County capitalized, while South (1-7, 0-3) failed to. The Patriots fumbled the ball away four times, while the Cardinals were intercepted three times and fumbled twice. Lincoln scored off four South miscues, while the Cards could manage only once score.
South quarterback Tyler Detherage was also knocked out of the game late in the first quarter, as Jonathan Jenkins took over for the rest of the game.
“We had more injuries to go on top of the injuries we already had,” Welch said. “When you are slim on people you try to find replacements. A lot of our younger kids got experience at new positions tonight.”
Lincoln struck first and never looked back. After both defenses held to start the game, South took over on its own 5-yard line with 7:15 left in the first. On first down, Detherage was intercepted by Trevor Gaines, who returned it 35-yards for an apparent score. But the TD was called back due to a penalty, giving the Patriots the ball on the 25. Four straight hand-offs to Robinson resulted in a 3-yard score with 5:26 left. Boone Baird added the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
The Cards drove to the Lincoln 22 on their next possession, but Detherage was intercepted by T.J. Torres at the 3-yard line. Torres returned it 97-yards for the score and a 14-0 lead with 1:51 left. It was on this play that Detherage was hurt.
South answered quickly on the ensuing kickoff when Jason Mitchell returned it 95-yards for the score. The snap on the point after was fumbled, leaving South trailing, 14-6.
A 31-yard scamper by Coulter with 11:02 remaining in the half made it 21-6. South was forced to punt on its next possession, but the snap sailed over Slavey’s head. He recovered it on South’s own 18. Five plays later, Martin carried it in from 1-yard out to push the lead to 28-6.
South fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Lincoln recovered on the South 32. Seven plays later Martin scored from 4-yards outs, and with three minutes left in the half, the score was now 35-6.
Lincoln had one last score before the half when Torres picked off his second pass and returned it to the Cardinal 4-yard line. Martin again carried it in from 4-yards out, and the Patriots were up huge at the half, 42-6.
Lincoln fumbled the ball away on its first four possessions of the second half, but South could only capitalize on one of those when Jenkins found Jeremy Prichard over the middle. Prichard broke a couple of tackles and ran it in from 36 yards out with 1:36 left. Jenkins then hit Landon Bray for the two-point conversion to cut the lead to 42-14.
Another Patriot fumble, caused when Jesse Thomas made a nice tackle on Coulter, gave South the ball on the Lincoln 30. But Jenkins was sacked on first down and fumbled the ball right back to the Patriots. This time Lincoln took advantage when Robinson scored from 39 yards out for a 49-14 lead with .23 seconds left in the third.
The lead grew to 56-14 with 11:42 left when Robinson scored from 25 yards out. South’s final score came with 4:21 remaining when Jenkins found Aaron Quinn for a 2-yard score. Coulter then carried it in from 13 yards out with 2:06 left to make the final, 63-20.
“We came out and played hard to open the third quarter,” Welch said. “It’s not the kids fault they are so young. The bottom line is you can’t do something if you can’t do it.”
The Cardinals will now be on the road at Pulaski County Friday.
Lincoln County 63, South Laurel 20
South Laurel 6 0 8 6—20
Lincoln County 14 28 6 14—63
LC—Robinson, 3 run (Baird kick); LC—Torres, 97 interception return (Baird kick); SL—Mitchell, 95 kickoff return (kick failed); LC—Coulter, 31 run (Baird kick); LC—Martin, 1 run (Baird kick); LC—Martin, 4 run (Baird kick); LC—Martin, 4 run (Baird kick); SL—Prichard, 36 pass from Jenkins (Jenkins to Bray); LC—Robinson, 39 run (Baird kick); LC—Robinson, 25 run (Baird kick); SL—Quinn, 2 pass from Jenkins (kick failed); LC—Coulter, 13 run (Baird kick).