Russell ballcarriers combined for 57 rushes and 431 yards.
The entire Red Devils team had one last impressive rush, a collective 50-yard sprint straight to the showers.
Just moments after the final horn sounded in Russell’s 52-18 win over Fleming County, the Red Devil players raced off the field toward the locker room eager to get ready for the homecoming dance, which had already started by the time the game had ended.
“They said that I kept them too long,” Russell coach Ivan McGlone joked after the players rushed off the field in order to prepare for the dance. “(Fleming County) threw the ball some, and it just seemed like a long game. They wanted to get out of here.”
As impressive as the postgame sprint was, it paled in comparison to Red Devils’ dominant rushing attack during the game.
Russell used 15 different players Friday night to rack up those 431 yards, led by Bronson Korzep who carried it 12 times for 115 yards and three touchdowns.
Korzep, a powerful runner, scored on rushes of 1, 5 and 30 yards, respectively.
While Korzep did the majority of the scoring, he had plenty of help in the backfield. Freshman Nick Conley tallied 85 yards on 13 carries, including a 23-yard touchdown, and Jackson McKnight had nine rushes for 69 yards and a score.
“All of our backs are pretty good,” McGlone said. “All of our backs run really hard. They may not always run smart, but they always run hard.”
It wasn’t just he running backs who made an impact running the ball, however. Early in the first half with the Russell advantage at 14-6, the Red Devils were forced into their only punting situation of the game. Punter Joe VanDeren was set to punt the ball from his own 25-yard line, but after bobbling the snap those plans had to be altered. Upon securing the ball, VanDeren was able to scramble and pick up the first down.
“That could have really put them in good position,” McGlone said. “That was a big play. You don’t get very many of those.”
Instead of the Panthers having excellent field position, Russell used the new life to score two plays later on Korzep’s one-yard plunge, which was set up by his one 49-yard run.
Fleming County (0-6) tried to make things interesting, scoring on their first two possessions of the second half, but the Red Devils had an answer every time as they scored on each of their first three possessions after halftime.
The Panthers did most of their damage through the air, as quarterback Jacob Boyd completed 10 of his 21 passes for 149 yards and three scores, one each to T.J. Miller, Wilder Williams and Aaron James.
Williams was the game’s leading receiver with 40 yards on two catches.
Russell’s Jacob Pennington also had a receiving touchdown — his came on an 18-yard pass from Jacob McKee.
Something even more rare than a Russell passing touchdown happened at the end of the first half. Russell kicker Patrick Soucy connected on a 34-yard free kick field goal as the second-quarter clock expired.
After Ethan Thompson’s fair catch at the 24-yard line, the Russell coaching staff notified the officials that they wanted to take advantage of the rarely used rule that allows the offense to attempt a field goal without any obstruction. The alignment on such a play resembles that of a kickoff, with the defense setting up a possible return and the kicking team’s players behind the ball when kicked. A free kick can only be attempted on the play directly following the offense receiving the ball via fair catch.
“We have tried to do it a couple of times in the past,” McGlone said. “You have to fair catch it. Then you don’t have to hold it. You put it on a tee just like a kickoff, and if you make it, you get three points. We were happy to get it.”
Russell ballcarriers combined for 57 rushes and 431 yards.
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Panthers pound Ashland for repeat trip to Rupp (with video)
To the victor belongs the spoils, which traditionally includes the nets after winning a tournament title. But Fleming County milled around on Morehead State’s floor taking pictures and soaking in the atmosphere after handling Ashland 82-59 in the 16th Region Tournament final.
Snipping the twine was almost an afterthought. In fact, except for a minute or so of celebration with their student section immediately following the final buzzer, the Panthers didn’t really even seem all that excited.
They expected to be here, and they were all business after earning back-to-back region titles and trips to Rupp Arena.
AARON SNYDER: Truth or Dare unkind to ’Cats
Ashland was left feeling like the shy kid after an intense game of Truth or Dare.
Truth: Fleming County outrebounded Ashland, 39-24, after Ashland outdueled Greenup County by 10 the night before.
'Relaxed' Steward earns MVP award
Both Fleming County coach Mark Starns and stellar senior Troy Steward attributed his significant strides this season to aggressiveness.
Playing a part, too, in Steward earning the 16th Region Tournament Most Valuable Player award was the lack of nerves, which were nearly overwhelming at times a year ago.
Central's 15th Region reign continues
Once was good.
Twice was nice.
Three was sweet for the Johnson Central Eagles.
Senior Slade McPeek scored 22 points and earned most valuable player honors Tuesday night as Johnson Central rolled past Shelby Valley, 81-56, for its third straight 15th Region championship at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
- Fleming goes for two: Panthers beat Ashland for 16th Region repeat Fleming County pulled away early and never looked back as the Panthers pounced on Ashland, winning 82-59 in the 16th Region championship game on Tuesday in Morehead. Fleming County will face Scott County in the Sweet Sixteen next Wednesday at Rupp Arena.
VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights
Fleming County defeated Lewis County, 66-58, and Ashland beat Greenup County, 81-61, on Monday night at Morehead State University to set up tonight's championship matchup. Tipoff is set for 7.
Ashland cruises past Greenup to 16th Region championship game
Tyler Stewart is known for his unrelenting hustle as one of Ashland’s glue guys.
When the senior guard can pitch in some offense too, as he did Monday in the 16th Region Tournament semifinals, that’s just one more problem for Tomcats opponents.
Stewart scored 20 points, senior Steven Friley posted a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Ashland outscored Greenup County 21-9 in the third quarter to break open what was a seven-point game at halftime and cruise past the Musketeers, 81-61.
Fleming battles back to 16th Region final
A healthy Wilder Williams this season has given Fleming County a whole new dimension.
Prior to his sophomore year, Williams sustained a football injury that resulted in three ankle surgeries and limited him to bench duty last season while the Panthers made their run to the 16th Region championship.
A physical 6-foot-3 player, Williams is making his presence felt around the basket as Fleming County looks to return to the Sweet Sixteen.
AARON SNYDER: Will the next hero be unmasked?
Who will the bat signal shine for tonight?
Or, should I say, the Cat signal?
In the third installment of a trilogy that might rival the Batman three-pack of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” Fleming County and Ashland will battle in a matchup that has produced a classic clash in each of the last two 16th Region Tournaments.
If the first two collectively served as a gradual progressions to tonight’s scene, the climax could be off the charts.
Corey Gregg was Ashland’s superhero in 2012, when the senior confidently fired a perfect 3-point shot from the right corner. The triple thrust the Tomcats and Panthers into overtime, from which Ashland emerged 79-73 in a first-round game.
Central wins, Lawrence falls in 15th
The biggest concern for Lawrence County coach Josh Cook was staying out of foul trouble.
His team stayed in it all night, and it cost them a spot in the 15th Region title game.
Shelby Valley senior Tyler Carr led four players in double figures with 19 points as the Wildcats knocked off Lawrence County, 72-60, in the semifinals of the 15th Region Tournament at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
“This one hurts,” said Cook. “We’ll learn from this, and I have no doubt that our kids will get back here and finish the job.”
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- Panthers pound Ashland for repeat trip to Rupp (with video)