Ashland made it look easy against rival Boyd County, dismantling the Lions 35-0 at Putnam Stadium on Friday night.
The defense smothered the Lions from the get-go, forcing a fumble on the first play from scrimmage to set the tone for a night of hard hits.
“They (Boyd County) thought it was going to be a shootout and that motivated our defense,” said Ashland coach Leon Hart. “Our defensive kids were offended. They felt like they’d be slighted.
“You shut a team out, you’ve done a heck of a job defensively.”
The shutout was the first in the Ashland-Boyd County series since 1992 and the sixth in Hart’s six seasons as Tomcat coach.
Last year’s Ashland-Boyd County game was a wild one with the Tomcats winning 40-34 in overtime. But Ashland’s rock-solid defense had the Lions shooting blanks on Friday.
“It was embarrassing,” said Boyd County coach Lee Evans. “They came out sky-high, ready to go. We were kind of on our heels mentally.”
The Lions (3-3) never recovered after the early fumble. Ashland scored on its first play, a 26-yard touchdown run by Dominic DeMartino on a nifty reverse play, to make it 7-0 less than a minute into the game.
By the end of the first quarter, the outcome was settled. Ashland led 21-0 after Josh Alber’s 1-yard scoring run and freshman Sam Hunter’s first touchdown pass as a Tomcat. The left-hander connected with Josh Miller on a 24-yard pass in the corner of the end zone with 40 seconds to play in the quarter.
It was that kind of night for the Lions, who were held to five first downs and only 94 total yards. All of that came on the ground as Boyd County was 0-for-8 passing with two interceptions.
“It was like we were in concrete,” Evans said.
More like quicksand. Defensive tackle Ryan Bonner was a frequent flyer in Boyd County’s backfield. Much of the Lions’ passing woes came because of a fierce Tomcat pass rush led by Bonner.
The highly regarded Wilson lined up all over the field, but accounted for only 30 yards.
“They did a great job of taking Zac out of the game,” Evans said. “When that happens, other players have to be there to step up. We didn’t have that.”
Evans called a timeout late in the first quarter and brought the team together. He challenged them not to back down.
“This game doesn’t built character, it reveals character,” he said. “I wanted proof we had that.”
Rashard Carter’s 16-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter made it 28-0 at the half. Carter finished with 145 yards rushing and Albert gained 110.
Alber, a hard-hitting linebacker, dished out the punishment with his running, tackling and blocking.
“That young man is the best-blocking fullback you could ever ask for,” Hart said. “If I’m a tailback, I’m taking that kid out to dinner constantly.”
Ashland’s overall team speed limited Boyd County’s big play potential. The Lions’ longest plays from scrimmage were a 16-yard run from Donnie Bryant and a 14-yard scramble by quarterback Tyler Arthur.
“Our speed was a tremendous factor in this game tonight,” Hart said. “It was very evident out there.”
The Tomcats (4-2) wrapped up the scoring in the fourth quarter with Alber’s second 1-yard touchdown plunge. Will Skaggs connected on all five extra points.
Ashland plays Woodford County at home next Saturday with a 6 p.m. kickoff. It’s one of three district games remaining in the last four games.
Boyd County plays Greenup County in a key district game Friday.
“We have two main goals,” Evans said. “One is to win the district and the other is to beat our county rivals. We’ve still got one left.”
This Week's Circulars
Frank "Bubby" Wolfe, 72, of Garrison, Kentucky, passed away, November 23, 2020, at his home. Crockett L. Reed Funeral Home in South Shore, Kentucky is in charge of the arrangements.
Robert West, 73, of Catlettsburg, Ky., passed away Friday November 20, 2020, at Kings Daughters' Medical Center surrounded by his loving family. He was born April 8, 1947, in Ashland, Ky., to the late Ernest and Bessie Myers West. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by broth…
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