Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

June 14, 2014

East ‘Gounds’ and pounds past West

MOREHEAD — Zach Gound had never played running back before Friday.

Johnson Central's former quarterback nonetheless largely turned the ninth annual Northeastern Kentucky East-West Senior Bowl into a one-player Golden Eagle scrimmage. His 157 rushing yards and four touchdowns helped the East stars overwhelm the West, 28-7, at Morehead State University's Jayne Stadium.

Gound was a three-year starter over center, but he harbored a dream.

“I always wanted to be a running back,” he said. “I loved having the ball in my hands. I knew my ability.”

He showed everyone else, too, scoring on runs of 3, 1, 8 and 25 yards.

When West coach John Hodge of Bourbon County was told Gound had never been a running back, he said, “It doesn't make me feel any better. He ran the ball hard.”

Like any smart running back, Gound praised his offensive line: Raceland's Nevan Johnson, Mac Boggs and Austin Manis, Fairview's Anthony Roark, and Johnson Central's Chris Niece. Which is why he saw …

“Green grass and big old guys' butts,” Gound said.

East coach Zack Moore of East Carter, meanwhile, heard Johnson Central might have three more running backs as good as Gound returning next season.

“If they do, God bless 'em,” Moore said.

If Gound and friends made you forget the East defense, check this: it recovered two fumbles and intercepted three passes. Another Golden Eagle, defensive back Brad Auxier, picked off one and had eight tackles.

“The way they held their arms, you could tell if was run or pass,” Auxier said.

East quarterback A.J. Cyrus of Lawrence County (58 passing yards) is off to Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, and he ran a pass-oriented offense for the first time Friday. It didn't work at first: two incompletions and Bourbon County's Jaxson Hilander's interception.

West quarterback Houston Cox of Bourbon County fared no better when Russell's Ethan Thompson picked him off two snaps later.

Gound carried seven times for 32 yards on the ensuing possession. Didn't matter: Montgomery County's Colton Pence blocked a Patrick Soucy (Russell) field goal attempt, which Bath County's Trent Sholar returned to the East 27. The drive stalled at the 5.

If West was feeling fortunate after trailing by just 7-0 at halftime, the second-half kickoff may have made them ill. Boyd County's Cody Tackett ran 79 yards to the 1, and Gound plunged for the final 36 inches.

“That kinda took the win out of some sails,” Hodge said.

West closed to within 21-7 when Powell County's Matt Brooks hit Khmarkis Blanton of George Rogers Clark for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 2:10 left in the third quarter. Brooks threw for 182 yards, and Blanton had three catches for 102.

Rowan County's Isaac Lee is headed to Eastern Kentucky University to run track, but Friday he led West with 52 rushing yards.

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