Ashland football

Ashland quarterback Darrell Mahan scrambles away from Lawrence County lineman Kyle Carter Friday.

Eighth-ranked Ashland and Lawrence County continued in opposite directions Friday night.

Ashland racked up 499 yards of offense and took advantage of two costly Lawrence County penalties on the way to a 38-6 romp at Putnam Stadium.

Matt Thomas rushed for 185 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown, and quarterback Darrell Mahan threw two scoring passes as the Tomcats won their seventh consecutive game and remained unbeaten in Class 3A district play.

“It was a very business-like win,’’ said Ashland coach Leon Hart. “We did some really good things in a sloppily played game. We laid the ball on the ground probably more than any other game, but also made a lot of big plays.’’

The Tomcats lost only one of their five fumbles and put the game away by scoring the last 21 points.

Lawrence County pulled to within 17-6 in the third quarter on Coty Roberts’ 34-yard TD run and then had Ashland backed up with fourth-and-24 from its own 21-yard line.

However, the momentum swung dramatically with a roughing-the-kicker penalty against the Bulldogs. Six plays later, Tomcat fullback Fields Davis broke through the middle for a 38-yard TD.

Ashland’s Thomas and Drew McDavid came up with interceptions on Lawrence County’s next two possessions and the Tomcats converted both into touchdowns to win going away.

Lawrence County coach Billy Goldsmith said the contest was symbolic of his team’s frustrating season.

After Ashland took a 7-0 lead on its first series, Lawrence County’s Jeff Cyrus broke loose for what looked to be an a 73-yard scoring run. But as Cyrus neared the goal line, a teammate was flagged for a block in the back several yards behind the play.

Instead of a tying TD, the Bulldogs were backed up to Ashland’s 23 and eventually turned the ball over on their first of three interceptions.

“Tonight was exactly the way it’s been going for us,’’ said Goldsmith, whose team has also been riddled with injuries. “This was it in a nutshell.’’

Hart sympathized with Goldsmith after the Bulldogs dropped to 1-7 overall and 0-3 in the district.

“They are a better football team than their record,’’ Hart said. “The thing you can say about Lawrence County is they never give up. They have a bunch of tough kids that just haven’t had many breaks go their way.’’

Meanwhile, a balanced Ashland offense produced 25 first downs. The Tomcats took a 17-0 halftime lead, aided by a heads-up play by senior wideout Kevin Burns.

Ashland, up 10-0, recovered a Lawrence County fumble at the Tomcats’ 36 with 1:37 remaining in the half. Mahan made a 43-yard completion to tight end Ryan Bonner for 43 yards. Two plays later, Mahan again connected with Bonner, whose fumble into the end zone was recovered by Burns.

“Ryan got hit and I saw the ball coming out,’’ Burns said. “I saw a Lawrence County player running for it and I just jumped on the ball. I guess you could say I was in the right place at the right time.’’

Burns also caught a 13-yard TD pass from Mahan in the fourth quarter to stretch Ashland’s lead to 31-6.

“The play was not designed to go to me,’’ Burns said. “I saw Darrell scramble and tried to find an open place in the back of the end zone.’’

Thomas paced the ground game with eight runs of 12 yards or more. Davis and Josh Cordle combined for 124 yards on the ground and spearheaded the Tomcats’ defense from their inside linebacker positions.

“Ashland has an excellent team and coach Hart runs a great football program,’’ Goldsmith said.

McDavid caught a 30-yard TD pass on Ashland’s first series to become the school’s career reception leader with 70.

Preston Freeman added a 27-yard field goal in the first quarter, extending his Ashland season record to six.

ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at rstanley@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2671.

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