Garrard County Proves Not All Four Seeds Created Equal
Rarely does a four seed win in the KHSAA football playoffs. Between six classes and small districts, the gap between ones and fours is typically quite wide, making for an opening round long on running clocks and short on drama. That wasn't the case in Flemingsburg on Friday night as fourth seeded Garrard County scored early and held on late to beat first seeded Fleming County 20-14, becoming one of only two four seeds to win a first round game (Butler defeated Ryle in 6A).
Playing in dry conditions but on a muddy field, Garrard (4-7) took the opening kickoff and scored on their second play from scrimmage, a 69-yard touchdown run by Josh Warren. Garrard coach Jerry Perry told the Maysville Ledger-Independent, "It was a big advantage for us to get the ball first, before the field got messed up. Once we went ahead, I hoped that those eight points would stand." (Lions run past Fleming County | Football | maysville-online.com)
They did, but not without a challenge. Garrard kept an 8-0 lead into the third quarter when David Pennington pin-balled his way in from 40 yards out to push the Lions' lead to 14-0 (the two point conversion failed). Fleming County then went on a tear, scoring twice in the last four minutes of the third quarter to knot the score at 14. With just over six minutes left in the game, Garrard quarterback Connor Isaacs hit Anthony Justus with a 34-yard touchdown pass to push the lead to 20-14. Garrard stopped Fleming on downs at the three yard line, then picked off a Josh Crump pass with just over a minute remaining to put the game on ice.
The win marked the fifth time in seven attempts since 2007 that Garrard has won a first round playoff game on the road. It gets no easier as the Lions must travel to Lexington Catholic for round two, a place Garrard hasn't won since 1995.
Garrard County wasn't the only District 4 club victorious on Friday night as all four district members won opening round games. Second-ranked Boyle County wasted no time pouncing on West Carter, defeating the Comets 47-14. Quarterback Reed Lanter threw for 152 yards and two scores in the win. The Rebels (10-1) will now face a Western Hills club they demolished by 57 points on October 20. #10 Western Hills (8-3) won at Russell 29-20, only the second playoff win in school history. Wandale Robinson rushed for 180 yards and scored four times in the victory.
#6 Lexington Catholic needed everything that could muster to fight off a scrappy Bath County team, winning 49-39. Dameon Jones ran for 248 yards and six touchdowns in the Knights (6-5) win.
All four host schools advanced to the second round with only one game ever in doubt. Caldwell County (9-2) defeated Hart County 43-14, marking the third consecutive year the Tigers have beat the Raiders in the first round. Caldwell, ranked seventh, will now host Larue County, 14-0 winners over Union County. #9 Larue (10-1) held Union to 109 total yards in the victory.
Elizabethtown had little trouble with Trigg County, coasting to a 47-6 win. Jay Becherer ran for 109 yards and two scores while quarterback Tyler Durbin threw for 144 yards and two touchdowns. The #5 Panthers (10-1) will host Paducah Tilghman in the second round for the third consecutive year after the Blue Tornado (5-6) blanked Edmonson County, 45-0. E'town has won the last two games with Tilghman by an average of 31 points.
Only one game of the four was close in Region III, but it was a good one. Floyd Central beat Henry County, 43-35, in a game that see-sawed back and forth all evening. Floyd Central quarterback Dylan Caudill ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns while also throwing for 172 yards and two more scores, but it was Dustin Huff who scored from inside the five yard line with one minute left to clinch the win for the Jaguars. In their first year, Floyd Central improved to 8-3 with their first win in their first ever playoff game.
Floyd Central will travel to fourth-ranked Central next week after the Yellowjackets dominated Pike County Central 50-0. Central (9-2) held the Hawks to 68 yards of total offense and tossed their fourth shutout of the season. Fellow region member Belfry had little difficulty with Thomas Nelson, reaching a running clock by halftime and winning 63-26. Belfry (10-1) rushed for 464 yards on the night and Derek Wellman scored four touchdowns. The top-ranked Pirates will now face Waggener, 41-24 winners over Lawrence County.
While District 4 picked up four victories, District 8 was the only other district to win three games. #3 Corbin romped over Knott County Central, 57-6. Quarterback Cameron Sizemore passed for 181 yards and three touchdowns in the win. The Redhounds (10-1) will now host Bell County, 48-8 road winners at Breathitt County. Bell (7-4) lost to Corbin on October 13 and fell in the second round to the Redhounds last season.
Casey County continued their impressive season, shutting out Morgan County 51-0. Preston Tucker led the #8 Rebels on the ground with 133 yards and two scores. For the second straight postseason Casey (10-1) will be a road favorite in round two as they travel to Powell County. Powell, winners of seven straight after four losses to start the season, topped Jackson County 47-14. The Pirates scored three times on the ground and four times through the air to best the Generals.