LIBERTY - The fog came from every direction at once, rising out of Green River and coming down from the surrounding hills.
Sam Marple hoped the thick mist would become something of a 12th man for Casey County, but the Rebels needed more than that to keep pace with Bell County on Friday night.
The Rebels were undermanned and they knew it, and that became apparent late in the first half when Bell broke open a close game with three touchdowns in rapid-fire succession en route to a 54-13 victory.
But Marple was keeping a score of a different kind, measuring his team’s progress one play at a time against a vastly superior foe.
“Right now, we’re at the point this year where we’re just working on getting better every single snap at every single position and trying to grow from it. I wasn’t worried nowhere near as much (about) the win or the loss as the way we played,” Marple said.
And by his reckoning, the Rebels fared reasonably well, though he said they still have many miles to go.
“I think the best thing we did wasn’t in our execution, it’s the way that we were attacking every single play, competing every single play,” Marple said. “If you’re just competing every rep, it can make up so much for lack of execution. Our execution as a football team right now is as bad as anything I’ve ever seen, ... so we’ve got to get a lot better in our execution, but if you ain’t competing, it don’t ever give you a chance to get better.”
Host Casey (2-5, 1-1 Class AAA, District 7) competed on the scoreboard with Bell (5-1, 2-0), the No. 3-ranked team in AAA until the roof caved in in the closing minutes of the first half.
The Bobcats’ Jonathon Polly scored three touchdowns in the final 2 minutes, 37 seconds of the second quarter to turn a 14-6 slugfest into a 35-6 cakewalk, after which the coaches of both teams agreed to play the second half with a continuously running clock.
By then the fog had taken hold, making it difficult to follow the action. It was impossible to see the down marker or players’ numbers from across the field at times, and players running toward the south end zone seemed to disappear into the mist.
Marple said Casey usually has at least one home game a year on a foggy night, and he said the players look forward to those games.
“Every year we have the fog — it’s usually not hardly this bad — (but) it’s a cool thing our kids like. We try to make it our 12th man,” he said. “It’s usually not this bad, but I have seen it this bad.”
Bell’s scoring barrage immediately followed Casey’s best offensive series of the night, a 13-play, 70-yard drive in which Alex Bolin carried the ball nine times and scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 3-yard run.
“We’re playing so many freshmen and sophomores, and the hardest thing to learn on the football field is to play at a constant. You never get too high or get too low. You can’t let the spurts get you too pumped up, and then when it gets down you’re not playing as hard,” Marple said.
Bolin, who rushed for 340 yards and six touchdowns a week earlier at McCreary Central, had 130 yards on 21 carries, the last of which was a 53-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter.
Marple said Bolin’s numbers weren’t as good because the opponent was better, but he said he was pleased with the hard work of both Bolin and his blockers.
“I thought our offensive line played as good tonight as we have all year long,” Marple said. “You look at the scoreboard and you’d think that we got dominated, but I thought in our offensive line play and our defensive line play we held our own.”
Casey had a handful of other big plays as well. Wyatt Bishop completed passes of 35 yards to Kyle Eads and 10 yards to Michael Randall — the latter on fourth-and-8 — during the Rebels’ first scoring drive, and Randall had a 31-yard interception return in the first quarter.
But Bell took a two-touchdown lead in a first quarter that saw Casey commit two turnovers and fumble twice more. The Rebels had five turnovers in all, three fumbles and two interceptions, and two of those turnovers led to touchdowns in the second quarter.
Polly had six carries for 113 yards during Bell’s three second-quarter scoring drives, which lasted 70, 28 and 55 seconds. He finished with 163 yards on 10 carries, and Ryan Collett ran nine times for 97 yards and two touchdowns for the Bobcats.
Bell County 14 21 13 6 — 54
Casey County 0 6 0 7 — 13
Bell — Jonathon Polly 11 run (pass failed), 7:15.
Bell — Ryan Collett 26 run (Hayden Gilbert kick), 5:09.
Casey — Alex Bolin 3 run (run failed), 3:50.
Bell — Polly 35 run (Gilbert kick), 2:37.
Bell — Polly 28 run (pass failed), 1:55.
Bell — Polly 22 run (R. Collett run), :12.
Bell — R. Collett 21 run (kick failed), 8:12.
Bell — Austin Caldwell 21 run (Gilbert kick), 1:57.
Casey — Bolin 53 run (Luke Patterson kick), 9:08.
Bell — Jake Barton 2 run (run failed), 2:10.
First downs 17 8
Rushes-yards 29-375 34-134
Passing 3 45
Total Net Yards 378 179
Comp-Att-Int 1-4-1 2-4-2
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 7-3
Penalties-Yards 5-39 5-45
RUSHING—Bell, Jonathon Polly 10-163, Ryan Collett 9-97, Austin Caldwell 3-46, Corey Lee 2-39, Jake Barton 3-18, Evan Brock 1-8, Peyton Collett 1-4. Casey, Alex Bolin 21-130, Rance Carman 5-20, Wyatt Bishop 6-11, team 2-minus 27.
PASSING—Bell, P. Collett 1-4-1-3. Casey, Bishop 2-3-1-45, Bolin 0-1-1-0.
RECEIVING—Bell, Tyler Green 1-3. Casey, Kyle Eads 1-35, Michael Randall 1-10.