A tale of two teams.
A betting individual knows where to place his money when picking his horse; you put your faith in the one with the best pedigree.
Friday night proved all bets are off at the end of the season. The East Carter Raiders ran its way through, scratch that, over the Morgan County defense, pulling out a shocking 41-18 defeat of the playoff bound Cougars in Grayson.
A team that’s had its fair share of heartbreaks during the season, East Carter (2-8) saw an umpteenth sequel on display in the early going when the Cougars (8-2) took just three plays to deliver the game’s first score when Kody Thornsberry dashed to the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown.
Trailing 6-0 after a failed Cougar conversion, East Carter senior fullback Cade Stidham began his journey toward his swan song in the upset.
East Carter needed just five plays to get into the end zone. Stidham carried the ball on four of them, gaining 65 yards on the drive as he bulldozed his way in for an 11-yard score up the gut with eight minutes to play. Quinn Huddle’s extra point gave the Raiders a 7-6 lead, which it did not relinquish the rest of the night.
Stidham made the most of his senior night in the spotlight, tallying an impressive 204 yards on 29 carries while scoring three touchdowns.
“I can’t think of a better way to go out,” Stidham said. “You’ve got an 8-1 team against a 1-8 team. Not many people gave us a chance tonight, but we were glad to prove them wrong.”
East Carter Coach Zack Moore shared his fullback’s excitement.
“Cade and the rest of these seniors have never quit, and that’s a credit to them,” Moore said. “They’ve persisted and kept playing hard throughout losing so many games, and I am very happy for them here tonight.”
After quarterback Donovan Roe scrambled his way in for the Raiders’ second score, Morgan County fought back when fullback Jordan Whitt rumbled his way 27 yards to pay dirt late in the first quarter.
Another failed two-point conversion marked the final time the Cougars would see East Carter’s lead below a touchdown.
With the score 21-12 in favor of the Raiders, the true momentum changer came in the final minute of the second, when Cole Boggs sacked Larrin Collins on a 4th-and-12 to allow East Carter some insurance with another Donovan Roe rushing score.
A blocked extra point saw the Raiders enter halftime with an unexpected 27-12 advantage.
“The kids at East Carter have really played a pretty tough schedule and we really felt like they were a better team than their 1-8 record showed,” Morgan County coach Brian Turner said. “Coach Moore had his team fired up here tonight and it showed.”
It wasn’t all bad for Morgan County. Thornsberry had another impressive outing, gathering 132 rushing yards on 14 carries, while collecting two touchdowns.
East Carter finishes its 2012 campaign at 2-8, its best season in three years, while Morgan County (8-2) returns home for a first-round 3A playoff bout against Lawrence County next Friday night.
EAST 14 13 0 14 — 41
MORGAN 12 0 0 6 — 18
M — Kody Thornsberry 23 run (2-point failed) 10:42
E — Cade Stidham 11 run (Quinn Huddle kick) 7:45
E — Donovan Roe 7-yard run (Huddle kick) 3:15
M — Jordan Whitt 27 run (2-point failed) 2:25
E — Stidham 8 run (Huddle kick) 10:02
E — Roe 2 run 0:02
E — Stidham 25 pass from Roe (Huddle kick) 9:21
M — Kody Thornsberry 1 run 7:00
E — Trey Barker 34 run (Huddle kick) 2:41
A tale of two teams.
- Local Sports
Panthers pound Ashland for repeat trip to Rupp (with video)
The Fleming County Panthers waited nearly an hour to ascend the ladders set up under the goals at Ellis T. Johnson Arena on Tuesday night.
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.”
- More Local Sports Headlines
- Panthers pound Ashland for repeat trip to Rupp (with video)