His initials are A.J., but his game is TDs.
Quarterback A.J. Cyrus operated Lawrence County’s option offense smoothly and came up with four touchdowns as the Bulldogs blitzed Boyd County, 56-15, on Friday night at Lawrence County High School.
Cyrus and company tallied 497 total yards of offense without starting fullback Ricky Goble, a 1,000-yard rusher a year ago, for the bulk of the contest. Goble exited after four carries with a tweaked right ankle.
Sophomore Cole Mosley stepped in as Goble’s replacement and did “a wonderful job,” as stated by Cyrus. He provided 90 yards and two scores, including the game-opening TD at the 4:30 mark of the first quarter.
“Whenever our main man Ricky Goble went down, we had a sophomore step up for us,” Cyrus said. “He had some huge runs for us. It was a huge surprise. He’s had to do it before in practice, and he’s just showing that he’s the man if Ricky goes down.”
One of Cyrus’ TDs even went to another TD — Timmy Dalton. Dalton nabbed a perfectly placed strike in stride and scampered to a 61-yard score to open up the Bulldog lead to 14-0 by first quarter’s end.
According to Cyrus, the freshman wideout initially planned on staying out of football to focus on basketball. Cyrus, though, wouldn’t have any of that.
“It took me everything to talk him into playing because he’s been so involved in basketball,” Cyrus said. “I needed him out there this season just so I could have some extra help on the other side of the ball.”
“He’s a good recruiter along with being a quarterback, I guess,” said Lawrence County third-year coach Joe Cecil through laughter.
Complementing Dalton is junior receiver Noah Lambert. He also recorded a TD reception, a 58-yarder in the second quarter.
“(Dalton and Lambert) give me the confidence to be able to throw it up there and they can just go up there and grab it,” Cyrus. said.
Cyrus was playing so confident, he started pushing his own offensive linemen around.
Cyrus is 170 pounds, but when 270-pound teammate Michael Johnson unintentionally blocked a running lane, Cyrus swiped his left arm across the shoulder of Johnson.
Johnson didn’t budge, but it boosted Cyrus to one of his several long pickups — he finished with 165 yards on the ground to go with two touchdowns. The senior was 3 of 3 for 134 yards and two scores through the air.
Playing its first game under the direction of head coach John Gilliam, Boyd County looked entirely overmatched until the offense came up with a 10-play, 58-yard drive in the second quarter.
Quarterback Billy McCoy found paydirt from five yards out, and a two-point conversion by Tanner Edmonds trimmed Lawrence County’s lead to 20-8.
The Bulldogs’ response? A big bite. Less than a minute later is when Cyrus hooked up with Lambert for six points, which was followed by a Derek Ferguson two-point conversion. Ferguson finished with 67 yards.
Mosley and Cyrus each scored in the third quarter, while Ferguson added one early in the fourth that brought the running clock in effect.
Boyd County freshman Christian Braly blazed down the sideline for a 54-yard TD run with 6:50 left. Dalton returned a kickoff 78 yards for the game’s final score.
“It was fun,” Cecil admitted, somewhat hesitantly. “It gives us hope. We’ve got a chance to be pretty good this year, but we’ve got some tough games ahead.”
Lawrence County held the Lions to 190 yards of offense. The Bulldogs allowed just eight passing yards and picked off a pair of passes — Lambert and Zach Keesee recorded the interceptions.
“They took us to the woodshed,” said Gilliam. “They’ve got some pretty darn good playmakers over there.
“We’ve just got to get some more bodies that want to play…” he added. “… that want to play during the four or five days of prep and not just the day the game is on. We have some quality young kids, but we’ve got some work to do.”
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.
His initials are A.J., but his game is TDs.
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Panthers pound Ashland for repeat trip to Rupp
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.
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.”
- Fleming hangs tough to beat Lewis Fleming County locked into another fight against Lewis County, which beat the Panthers earlier this season, before winning 66-58 on Monday in Morehead. Wilder Williams posted a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Panthers, who face Ashland on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
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- Panthers pound Ashland for repeat trip to Rupp