ASHLAND Keontae Pittman and Brett Mullins offered divergent answers to the same question.
There was one thing upon which Pittman, Mullins and the rest of Ashland's football team could agree: Friday's 54-7 running clock win over visiting East Carter was a welcome sight at Putnam Stadium.
“This whole environment, it's just different,” Pittman said. “It's the best field you can play on, best fans.”
Here's where Pittman's and Mullins's opinions differed. Was the 15th straight home win more important, or was the 711th victory in program history the more satisfying?
“I like the 711-win history,” Mullins said. “That shows what this program's able to do and what we're capable of.”
Pittman said the home victory was more satisfying.
“It's nice to win here,” Pittman said.
Ashland coach Tony Love, meanwhile, talked about continuity.
“When we have a group of seniors that leave, we have another group of seniors that step in,” Love said. “They don't replace this person and they don't replace that person, but they step in and they do what they can do, and they usually do it at a high level.”
Whatever statistic you prefer, Pittman, Mullins and receiver J.T. Garrett should've made you happy.
Pittman ran 15 times for 111 yards and two touchdowns (2 and 28 yards), Mullins was 6-of-11 for 143 yards, and Garrett caught four passes for 132 yards, including a 90- and 28-yard score.
Altogether, the Tomcats gained 446 yards (303 of them on the ground) and allowed East Carter (2-2, 0-1) only 76.
The Raiders' lone highlight? Jacob Underwood's 90-yard opening kickoff 16 seconds into the game.
Ashland (3-0, 1-0 in Class 3A, District 7) ended the suspense in the first half, and the Tomcats did it in multitudinous ways: Pittman's touchdowns, Mullins' two touchdown passes to Garrett, a 4-yard score from Vinnie Palladino and Hunter Gillum's 13-yard scamper.
“You've gotta get better at tackling and blocking,” East Carter coach Tim Champlin said. “You know, the simple things of football.”
Mullins' 90-yarder to Garrett was at least partly the result of some East Carter slippage. A Raider fell down in front of Garrett, who cruised untouched the rest of the way.
“Just a run-down-the-field type of play,” Garrett said.
The second Mullins-to-Garrett touchdown was almost surgical in its precision. Mullins threw between two East Carter defenders.
As for the 28-yard score … “On that play we messed up a little bit, but it ended up just being a playmaker and making a play,” Garrett said.
And yes, Ashland had defense. Tristian Rayburn blocked a punt that Pittman turned into his 28-yard score, and the Tomcats recovered a Raider fumble that became an S.J. Lycans 23-yard field goal.
E. CARTER 7 0 0 0 – 7
ASHLAND 21 21 6 6 – 54
EC-Jacob Underwood 90 kick return (Logan Cales kick), 11:44
A-Keontae Pittman 2 run (S.J. Lycans kick), 10:20
A-Pittman 28 run (Lycans kick), 7:51
A-J.T. Garrett 90 pass from Brett Mullins (Lycans kick), 1:44
A-Vinnie Palladino 5 run (Calyx Holmes kick), 9:53
A-Hunter Gillum 13 run (Lycans kick), 8:51
A-Garrett 28 pass from Mullins (Lycans kick), 0:29
A-Lycans 23 field goal, 6:57
A-Lycans 33 field goal, 0:39
A-Palladino 1 run (kick failed), 6:26
First downs 3 12
Rushes-yards 29-65 30-303
Passes 3-7-0 INT 6-11-0 INT
Passing yards 11 143
Punting 8-24.2 2-38.0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 0-0 4-35
East Carter rushing: Underwood 8-22, Terry 5-11, Bellew 3-9, Stamper 4-13, Kiser 2-12, Kozee 6-(minus-3), Roberts 1-3.
Ashland rushing: Pittman 15-111, Clutters 2-15, Tackett 2-2, Garrett 1-7, Mullins 1-58, Gillum 5-41, Palladino 4-69.
East Carter passing: Kozee 3-7-11.
Ashland passing: Mullins 6-11-143.
East Carter receiving: Goodman 2-6, Terry 1-5.
Ashland receiving: Garrett 4-132, Humphrey 2-11.