For The Independent
MOUNT STERLING —
Not often can a coach find a silver lining in a lopsided loss but, for Rowan County coach Kyle Singleton, Saturday’s season opener could have been a lot worse.
Geoge Rogers Clark had little trouble with the Vikings, rolling up 576 yards of offense in a 58-13 runaway in the first game of the 66th annual Recreation Bowl on Saturday at Montgomery County. The most pressing issue for Rowan County, however, was the health of star running back Keontae Moore.
Moore, the 290-pound tailback who rushed for more than 700 yards in 2012, saw one carry in Rowan County’s first two series before picking up steam in the third. On a game-tying drive, he ran for 43 yards on four carries and broke numerous tackles before landing awkwardly on his ankle. He did not return and Rowan County’s offense had difficulty finding rhythm in his absence.
“It looked like an ankle sprain. Luckily the bone structure looked fine so we’re hoping it’s just a sprain,” said Singleton. “He’s one of our leaders and the kids rally around him. After he went down it kind of deflated them. We weren’t playing with the same intensity and when you don’t do that in a game like this against a team like that, things can get out of hand in a hurry.”
GRC, a team that finished just 1-10 in 2012, hit the ground running — literally. The Cardinals managed 378 yards rushing, averaging more than eight yards per carry. GRC found the end zone with three runs in excess of 25 yards, including a 41-yard run from Logan Burchett early in the second quarter that gave the Cardinals the lead for good.
“We had success running the football all night and coming in we wanted to make them stop us,” said GRC coach Steven Collins. “The guys up front gave us a chance to win. You have to give kudos to those kids up front. They were the ones opening those holes.”
It looked like Rowan County would go into halftime down one score following tight end Blake Chapman’s 29-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Devin Helvey.
GRC pulled off a successful fake punt, however, when backup quarterback Lloyd Campbell hit Josiah Isreal for a 14-yard gain. Three plays later, Shawn Willhite scored from 21 yards out for a 26-13 halftime lead. The Cardinals put the contest away when they scored on the opening possession of the second half for a 34-13 lead.
“I was yelling timeout on the sideline (before the fake punt) but I guess it just didn’t get heard,” Singleton said. “The kids have to realize in that situation they have to be ready for anything. In that situation it’s hard to give up a play like that. But give them credit. They made the play.”
Rowan County’s last chance to close the gap ended with a tipped interception in the end zone by GRC’s Johnny Jarrett on the team’s first possession of the third quarter. The Cardinals continued to pour it on in the final quarter with three more scores before the running clock kicked in.
The Vikings’ road gets no easier next week as they host Lawrence County, a 56-15 winner over Boyd County in Week 1.
“You look up and down our schedule and there’s not an easy game on it. There isn’t a single team on there that you could look at and say ‘That’s a win,’” Singleton said. “We’re going to have to step it up and compete. Tonight’s game showed us we have some things we need to improve.”