OLIVE HILL —
Friday night’s Russell-West Carter matchup turned into one long game of keep-away.
The Red Devils had 319 rushing yards to pick up a 33-6 win over the Comets on Friday night at West Carter High School.
While picking up big yards on the ground, Russell also decided to hog the ball, running 70 offensive plays to West Carter’s 27.
“We sustain our drives pretty well,” said Russell running back Nick Conley. “We like to break the long ones, but we don’t do it that often. We just drive it down the field really well.”
Conley led Russell with 111 yards rushing, 103 coming in the first half.
The freshman was the one who finished two second quarter scoring drives for the Red Devils — both clock-eating, run-heavy drives.
The first was a 20-play, nine minute, 94-yard march, capped off by a Conley 15-yard touchdown run.
That was followed by a 14-play, six minute, 66-yard drive that Conley finished off with a 5-yard run.
Russell coach Ivan McGlone said he’s used to seeing his team come up with huge, time-consuming drives. He wasn’t used to his team finishing them.
“Offensively we’ve been having trouble getting it into the end zone,” McGlone said. “We move the ball — we’ve had over 55 plays in each game. We feel we should have had more points the past few weeks.”
After two long drives ended the first half, Russell went at it again with a 44-yard drive that lasted almost six minutes and ended with a Bronson Korzep 1-yard touchdown run.
After the Red Devils forced a West Carter three-and-out, Ethan Thompson returned the ensuing punt 52 yards for a touchdown.
For a team not used to getting big plays, McGlone felt that one came at the right time to put the game away.
“I think it broke their backs a little bit,” McGlone said. “When (Thompson) did that, they we’re still in it, but from a mental standpoint that hurt them.”
If that didn’t, the following series did when Comets’ quarterback Chase Hanshaw was intercepted by Korzep.
The interception led to another touchdown, which Thompson ran in from one yard out.
While the offense stayed on the field, the Red Devils’ defense did was it has done all season: shut down offenses.
For the fourth game this season, Russell’s defense held its opponent to single-digit scoring.
“Our defense has played well all year,” Conley said. “From our linebackers to our secondary, we always play hard. I’m just really proud of our defense with how they played this year.”
West Carter’s offense had trouble moving the ball period. It didn’t help the Comets that their top two rushers were injured.
Quarterback Braden Brown missed the game with a high ankle sprain, while running back Tristen Mitchell is out for the season with a torn ACL.
The Comets finished with 102 yards of total offense, but most of it came on the final drive of the game when a Ralph Wages 55-yard run set up an Ethan Brown 28-yard touchdown run to get on the board.
Until its final offensive series, West Carter had only one first down, and five punts.
“We couldn’t make plays to help keep the chains moving,” said West Carter coach Kevin Brown. “We couldn’t keep it out of their hands. We weren’t able to get out to the edge and in space and that’s our game and they were able to stop it.”