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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2664.