LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
RUSSELL SPRINGS—Late in the first half of Friday’s game with Russell County, South Laurel drove to the Lakers’ 1-yard line, setting up a first-and-goal trailing 21-7.
But the Cardinals failed to score when Tyler Detherage’s pass on fourth-and-goal from the two fell incomplete. Russell County took over and drove 98 yards for another score. Instead of possibly trailing at the half 21-14, South Laurel was now trailing 28-7. The Cards never could recover from that, falling to the Lakers, 62-13.
“We didn’t play nowhere near what we’re capable of,” South Laurel coach Larry Welch said. “You have to do the little things to win, and we didn’t do those.”
Coming into the game, Welch said his team would have to stop the big play to be successful against the Lakers. Unfortunately they failed to do so.
Russell County (3-0) had several big plays to choose from. Nick Britt had touchdown runs of 56-yard and a 74-yards. He also caught a pass on third-and-12 and rambled 15 yards for a first down. That play kept the drive alive, a drive that saw the Lakers score.
Then you have Nick Coffey’s 31-yard interception return for a touchdown. Or Evan Fletcher’s 60-yard interception returned for yet another score. Or a Lee Cox interception which set up another score. Lucas Whittle had a 44-yard catch for a score and Austin Blankenship raced 78-yards for a touchdown.
Even though they trailed by 21 at the half, the Cards were still in the game. That is until Russell County scored 28 unanswered points to take a 56-7 lead with 19.2 seconds left in the third quarter.
“Anything and everything that could go wrong went wrong in the second half,” Welch said. “Interceptions, bad tackling, bad special teams, you name it.”
The Lakers set the tone on their first possession when Nick Britt took a handoff on the first play from scrimmage and raced 56-yards for the score. Britt would carry the ball 16 times for 169 yards and three touchdowns.
“He’s a good back, no doubt,” Welch said. “But we made him look better than he is.”
South Laurel (1-2) answered right back, as Detherage drove the Cards 80-yards for a score when he hit Jason Mitchell for a 24-yard touchdown with 8:41 left in the first quarter. Mitchell had another strong night for the Cards, as he caught 10 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. He also carried the ball three times for 86 yards and a score.
The Lakers took a 14-7 lead on their next possession, driving 47 yards in five plays, capped off by Barton Mann’s 4-yard run with seven minutes left.
The Cards defense was able to hold Russell County and forced the Lakers to punt the ball away with 1:07 left in the quarter. South drove the ball to the 31 as the quarter came to an end.
Facing a third-and-12 on the 31 early in the second quarter, Detherage dropped back to pass. He tried to hit Austin Rader, but Coffey stepped in front of Rader for the interception and returned it 31 yards for the score and a 21-7 lead.
A 98-yard drive was capped off when Mann carried the ball in from 1-yard out with 25.9 seconds left in the half to up the lead to 28-7.
Things only got worse in the second half.
Mann hooked up with Whittle for a 44-yard score with 9:50 left in the third. After South’s defense held later in the quarter, the Cards took over on the 15. But Cox picked off Detherage on first down and returned the ball to the South Laurel 35. Britt then caught a pass from Mann and rumbled to the 1-yard line. He carried it in on the next play to make it 42-7.
Jon Jenkins took over for Detherage on South’s next possession. On second-and-11 from the 41 he found Jeremy Prichard at the Russell County 47. Jenkins then carried it to the 42 for a first down, but on the next play, South tried the halfback pass when Jenkins pitched it to David Byrd, but Byrd’s pass was intercepted by Blake Ellis at the 28.
Two plays later, Britt took the hand-off and broke tackles down the right side, cut back to the left and raced 74-yards to make it 49-7 with 1:53 left. Fletcher scored from 2-yards out with 19.2 seconds left to make it 56-7.
The Cards finally scored another touchdown when Mitchell faced 78-yards for the score, cutting the lead to 56-13. Russell County would add a late touchdown when Fletcher intercepted a Jenkins pass and returned it 60-yards to make the final 62-13.
“They are a good team,” Welch said of Russell County. “They have almost everybody back from last year.”
Russell County 62, South Laurel 13
South Laurel 7 0 0 6—13
Russell County 14 14 18 6—62
RC—Nick Britt 56 run (Lucas Williams kick); SL—Jason Mitchell 24 pass from Tyler Detherage (Matt Slavey kick); RC—Barton Mann 4 run (Williams kick); RC—Nick Coffey 31 interception return (Williams kick); RC—Mann 1 run (Williams kick); RC—Lucas Whittle 44 pass from Mann (Williams kick); RC—Britt 1 run (Williams kick); RC—Britt 74 run (Williams kick); RC—Evan Fletcher 2 run (Williams kick); SL—Mitchell 78 run (kick failed); RC—Fletcher 60 yard interception return (kick failed).