Troy Huffine was feeling a little antsy. Russell’s senior halfback had missed the last two games with a separated shoulder before Friday’s Class 3A, District 6 contest at Lewis County.
Huffine didn’t look hurt against the Lions. His 132 rushing yards and two touchdowns led the Red Devils to a 33-18 win.
“Yes sir, very antsy,” Huffine said. “I was anxious to play with my teammates my senior year.”
Russell coach Ivan McGlone, however, wasn’t exactly pleased with what he saw.
“We survived,” McGlone said. “We didn’t come out with a lot of fire. We didn’t play particularly well. So, we survived.”
Russell (5-3, 3-1 in the district) was a little shorthanded Friday night — senior Googie Hayes, whose 513 yards rushing and 260 receiving led the Red Devils in both categories, suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee late in last week’s loss to Mason County.
“We just move on,” McGlone said.
The Red Devils (41 carries for 308 yards) did against Lewis County. Senior Bryant Cathey ran nine times for 65 yards to go with his 50-yard interception return for a touchdown, and sophomore Bronson Korzep ran for another 74.
“I feel like there was a lot of pressure,” said Korzep, who got a lot of the carries that usually go to Hayes.
Lewis County coach Josh Hughes said his Lions (2-6, 1-3) have suffered from a mixture of penalties, injuries and a few missed extra points.
The Lions nevertheless took the early lead on Levi Clark’s 15-yard pass to Nick Ruark with 5:40 left in the first quarter. It was a drive Hughes should have liked and might have made McGlone cringe — there were three Clark completions for 40 yards and a pass interference call against the Red Devils.
Russell’s most consistent play in its decades-old Wing-T offense was handing Huffine the ball, usually over a guard. It worked for Russell’s first score, Huffine over left guard from 21 yards out after a pass interference call against Lewis County, a run that included two broken tackles.
“My guards, Jacob Adkins and Landon Arnold, I followed them most of the night,” Huffine said. “They treated me well.”
By halftime Huffine had 124 yards on just nine carries, including 53 over the middle of the line 45 seconds into the second quarter.
Huffine wasn’t Russell’s only contributor. After holding Lewis County to a three-and-out, Cathey carried twice for 29 yards. Senior Gage Stevens scored over left tackle from a yard out, but Huffine carried three times for 35 yards.
Clark finished the half with 78 passing yards, including a 38-yarder to Ruark. Sophomore Mason Thurman finished the 10-play, 64-yard drive with a four-yard run with 1:04 before intermission.
Lewis County also had its moments on defense.
After Russell quarterback Lance Evans’ 36-yard pass to Jon Kennedy put the ball at the Lewis County 10, the Lions held out the Red Devils on four snaps to end the half and two straight third-quarter possessions.
Different story in the fourth stanza.
Evans’ four-yard run completed a 14-play, 58-yard drive (a Lewis County personal foul after Evans’ 14-yard run put the ball at the Lion 6) with 7:55 to go in the game, and Cathey’s interception return TD a little more than a minute later clinched the win.
Lewis County finished the scoring on Clark’s 13-yard pass to Chase Parker.
“I thought we did a lot of things good at times,” Hughes said. “We gave up the big play, which you can’t do. We gave them a couple scores, easy scores, which you can’t do.
“I think we did a better job up front than what it looked like. We were able to move the ball late, which was good.”