At long last.
Greenup County’s 24-game losing streak ended Friday at Fleming County, but not without drama. The Musketeers watched the Panthers score 13 points in 35 seconds before escaping with a 22-20 win.
Greenup County coach Chris Mullins finally won his first game in 23 in Lloyd. Before joining the handshake line, he was hands-on-knees tired.
“I’m thinking it’s been way too long to feel this happy,” Mullins said seconds before he was on the wet end of a water cooler shower. “I’m thinking I’m glad it’s September, not November.”
Sophomore Ryan Byrd ran 22 times for 127 yards. He needed just five letters and two syllables to describe what he felt: “Happy.”
Greenup County (1-2) was used to close games: a 26-20 loss to Lewis County and a 14-8 setback at Russell to open the season. Friday, however, had Mullins wondering if he needed some blood pressure medicine, especially after Panther quarterback Jacob Boyd’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Clayton Browning with 49 seconds left and, after Fleming County recovered the ensuing onside kick, a 22-yard toss to Wilder Williams with 15 ticks remaining.
“That’s three games decided in the fourth quarter,” Mullins said.
The Musketeers’ win hardly neutralized what Boyd did: 19-of-29 passing for 244 yards and three touchdowns. Junior Aaron James caught 10 for 121 yards.
So what doomed Fleming County (0-3)? Four lost fumbles and an interception didn’t help.
“When you have five turnovers in any varsity football game, it’s tough to win,” Panthers coach Bill Spencer said. “I was proud of our kids’ effort, the resiliency to keep fighting until the very end.”
Byrd now has 389 rushing yards, largely on misdirection plays. He said Fleming County often had six players on the line of scrimmage, but it often didn’t matter — he averaged 5.6 yards per carry.
“We knew if we could get it outside, it’d be good,” Byrd said. Mullins had another theory.
“Most teams are running fast-flow defenses,” Mullins said. “You run any misdirection just to keep them honest.”
Credit the Musketeer run defense, too — it held Fleming County to just nine yards rushing.
“If I fought off the blocker, then their backfield couldn’t stop me,” said Musketeer lineman Drew Johnston, who also had a sack.
Fleming County’s first touchdown, a 23-yard pass from Boyd to James with 1:42 left in the first quarter, was the result of two things Panther coaches saw the Musketeers do in their previous two games.
With the ball on Greenup County’s 32, James was alone against Eli Skaggs on the far right side, with three receivers on the left. When Skaggs lined up over James’ right shoulder, James went to the middle for a nine-yard catch. When the Panthers used the same formation the next snap, Skaggs lined up on James’ left shoulder — which is when James faked inside, went along the sideline, out-jumped Skaggs at the 3 and barely made the end zone.
Mullins said moving safety Josh Barney to back up Skaggs helped a little.
After Rusty Wells took Boyd’s 20-yard punt 17 yards to the Panther 35, Hunt found him practically untouched down the left sideline for the score. Kenton Boggs converted Boyd’s pass for the two-point conversion.
Both the Musketeers and Panthers had scoring chances that mistakes thwarted. Brad Marsh picked off a Boyd pass early in the second quarter, and Fleming County’s Carmelo Puente intercepted Hunt late in the period.
In the post-game huddle, Mullins said the players were responsible.
“I don’t deserve anything, the (assistant coaches) don’t deserve anything,” Mullins said. “You (players) deserve everything.”
At long last.
- Local Sports
ZACK KLEMME: Punchless Reds wasting solid pitching
The last nine days have been an exercise in understanding just how slim the margin for error is for baseball teams — even good ones — that can’t score.
Practice rolls on as kickoff approaches in less than 5 weeks
As high school football teams strap on helmets and prepare for Friday nights next month, the theme of the first couple of weeks of practice for most is simple.
You gotta work. Hard.
And if you don’t, it’ll be exposed come Aug. 22.
“Everybody looks good in helmets,” Ashland coach Tony Love said with a grin. “We’re all undefeated. There’s a lot of work to get done.
“Our coaches and kids, we all know it, and that’s why they’re here and we’re here, and we’re gonna push hard every day.”
Pennington makes push for Nationals
Swimmer Kenzie Pennington had one last chance to make the cut for this year’s YMCA Long Course National Championships.
The 15-year-old from Ashland didn’t disappoint.
Salyers shoots 75 for title at Lakeside
Baylee Salyers of Flatwoods shot a 3-over par 75 at Lakeside Golf Course on Thursday to win the Girls Open division of the Walmart Kentucky PGA Junior Tour event.
- Laying the foundation Workers are finishing the foundation for the locker room on the home side of Putnam Stadium on Tuesday. The Ashland Tomcats open the football season on Aug. 22 against Newport Catholic.
Todd Eastham is disproving the old cliche, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”
MARK MAYNARD: Looking for those who inspire
Inspirtation, they say, comes from within. It is defined as an inspiring or animating action or influence.
Jones tops Gillum in playoff at Eagle Trace
Ashland senior golfer Logan Jones didn't shoot his average Monday.
He didn't mind.
His three-over par 75 and one-hole playoff win over Elliott County junior Ryan Gillum gave him the Boys Open division title in the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour stop at Morehead State University's Eagle Trace Golf Course.
Raceland tabs Clark as new girls basketball coach
Jason Clark has a reputation of being — to use his word — “passionate” on the Raceland volleyball sideline.
He plans to bring that same approach as the Lady Rams’ new basketball coach.
Pass the Mayo: East sophomore PG, Lady Raiders preparing for winter run
East Carter sophomore point guard Kristen Mayo has played basketball for as long as she can remember.
- More Local Sports Headlines
- ZACK KLEMME: Punchless Reds wasting solid pitching