LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Laurel didn’t need to throw a pass to score its first three possessions and open a 20-0 lead on Campbellsville. Even when Michael Nelson, who scored the first three touchdowns, didn’t get a carry in the second half, North Laurel easily posted a win 40-7 over Campbellsville.
“Our guys want to run the football. They love to run the football and that’s what they’re best at,” North Laurel coach Chris Larkey said.
Gabe Blair rushed for 128 yards on 13 carries. Nelson finished with seven carries for 86 yards.
“I thought Nelson ran the ball well. Gabe ran the ball well. I thought our blocking backs did a good job. We’ve still got a lot of work to do” Larkey said.
Larkey said he does not go into a game with a script of what play to run. Chances are it will be a run.
“The first play of the game, I never decide that until we’re getting ready to run the play. I really don’t script it. I have an idea of what we’ll be needing, different formations,” Larkey said. “Running the football is our strong point.”
You won’t get any argument from the Tigers, who were held to minus-3 yards in the first quarter. Campbellsville had the ball for about three minutes in the first period with the Jaguars grinding out yardage and clock.
“You’re going to be the best at what you practice at. There are a lot of teams out there that throw it every play. That’s what they practice,” Larkey said. “It’s hard to be 50-50 because you have so much to work on and you don’t have a lot of time.”
North Laurel’s opening drive was 69 yards with Blair gaining 44. Nelson carried the final two yards for the touchdown. The Jaguars’ second series started near midfield after a Campbellsville punt. This time it was Nelson carrying the load. Although Nelson is known for his speed, he is showing he can also run between the tackles.
“He is a tough kid. He can go inside and hit,” Larkey said.
North Laurel’s third possession also started near midfield. The first play was a 30-yard carry by Nelson that would be called back on a penalty. It didn’t matter. Blair rumbled 33 yards on the second play. Nelson would score on a 29-yard run that ended with him shaking two defenders and dragging one into the end zone. North Laurel led 20-0, but it would be the last carry of the night for Nelson. He was sick on the sideline after the run and would not return.
“When he’s in there he’s a threat. When he gets a crease, it’s a touchdown. That’s a threat we’ve not had in a long time,” Larkey said.
Campbellsville had negative yardage and no first downs in the first quarter. They would piece together an 80-yard scoring drive to open the second quarter. Most of the yardage came through the air with the Tigers converting two third downs. The touchdown came on fourth-and-8 from the 16-yard line with Zach Durham tossing a 16-yard score to Kendon Young.
“We messed up on coverage on defense. A guy just didn’t get there fast enough and they scored on us. They had some good athletes and they are a threat to score when they get the ball out in space,” Larkey said.
The Campbellsville momentum lasted 15 seconds. Cole Lewis showed his big-play ability with an 88-yard kick return to make it a 27-7 game.
“He was the one that messed up on the coverage,” Larkey said. “He was mad and that’s why he ran the touchdown back.”
After a Campbellsville punt, North Laurel made it 33-7 with Hagen Hodges leading a 65-yard drive. Hodges connected with Jake McFadden on an 18-yard pass on a key third-and-5. Hodges completed three of four pass attempts.
“Hagan Hodges came in and played a great game for us. He showed he could throw the ball a little bit,” Larkey said.
Hodges scored the touchdown on a 9-yard run. He appeared to be stopped at the 1-yard line before turning and bulling his way across the goal line.
The Jaguars final touchdown came when Hodges connected with Lewis on a 25-yard scoring pass.
“The true test is going to come next week and after that when we start playing teams that are better and better. Campbellsville has a good team, but they are young. We are just hoping to build off of this,” Larkey said.
Wayne County has won its first two games by a combined score of 106-14. North Laurel was in a similar position last year with a 2-0 record when the Cardinals won in overtime at North Laurel.
“We’ve just got to get tougher. I think we’re getting there physically and mentally. The next few games will show what we can really do,” Larkey said.
North Laurel 40, Campbellsville 7
Campbellsville 0 7 0 0—7
North Laurel 13 20 7 0—40
NL—Michael Nelson 2 run (Keaton Kennedy kick); NL—Nelson 30 run (kick failed); NL—Nelson 29 run (Kennedy kick); C—Durham 16 pass to Young (Bates kick); NL—Cole Lewis 82 yard kick return (Kennedy kick); NL—Hagan Hodges 9 run (kick blocked); NL—Hodges 25 pass to Lewis (Kennedy kick).