By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Big plays were South Laurel’s downfall in its 36-8 loss to Wayne County Monday in the Cumberland Valley Bowl.
Wayne County (2-0) scored touchdowns of 90, 29, 70, 51 and 23 yards. It wasn’t the result new head coach Matt Rhymer wanted for his first game, but he remained positive after the loss.
“The big plays definitely hurt us,” Rhymer said. “We had a freshman corner and a first time safety so we are very inexperienced in the secondary. But take away those big plays and it might have been different.”
Rhymer knew coming in that his Cardinals (0-1) would be in for a tough test against the other set of Cardinals (2-0). Wayne County came in as one of the top teams in Class 3A.
“They are a very good team,” Rhymer said. “But I think we took their running game away and I felt they were getting tired.”
After the two teams exchanged punts at the start of the game, Wayne County’s second possession started on its own 10 yard line. On the first play quarterback Tyler Guffey found Alan Brown open over the middle and he raced 90 yards for the score. Wayne missed the point after, leaving them ahead of South Laurel 6-0.
After another South Laurel punt, Wayne County would score again, this time when Guffey hooked up with Logan Gardner for 29 yards. Guffey then hit Kadameion Branham for the two-point conversion and with 11:50 left in the first half the lead was now 14-0.
The South defense, in the form of Jacob Hale, came up huge later in the half when Hale intercepted Guffey and returned it to the Wayne County 38. But the Cards couldn’t capitalize on this turnover when they turned the ball over on downs.
Taking over on the 30, it took Wayne just two plays to score, this time when Guffey threw his third touchdown pass to a third different receiver, this time Jason Perkins, who made a sweet move to get past a South Laurel defender and race 70 yards down the sideline to score with 2:36 left. Junior Ruiz added the point after to make it 21-0.
Wayne added one more score before the half when Guffey made it four TD passes when he found Perkins again for 51 yards. Ruiz again added the PAT for a 28-0 halftime lead. South was outgained on offense in the first half 294 yards to 20.
The final Wayne County score came with 9:35 left in the third as Guffey and Brown again hooked up, this time for 23 yards. With the two-point conversion good, the lead was now 36-0 and the clock started to run continuously.
South Laurel did manage to put together a couple of good drives in the second half, the second one resulting in a score when backup quarterback Matt Harp led a scoring drive that started on the 35 and ended when he took it over from four yards out for the score with 7.1 seconds left. Noah Bronnert added the PAT to make the final 36-7.
“I saw some good things tonight and I am proud of my team,” Rhymer said. “This is a process. We will win football games. I don’t like to lose. I trust my team and my coaches and what we are doing. We will go back and work on some things and get ready for Rockcastle County. It’s just going to take some time for this team to play smash mouth football. I’ve won championships running these plays. We have to learn to run block and run the football.”
Landon Bray was named Offensive Player of the Game for South, while Hale was named Defensive Player of the Game.
The Cardinals will host Rockcastle County Friday.