LANCASTER - While a Garrard County victory Friday over winless Estill County wasn’t guaranteed, it was pretty much assured.
So Garrard coach Mark Scenters was looking to see how sharp and focused his team was in its district finale against the Engineers. And aside from one big play, the Golden Lions dominated en route to a 59-6 win at Dyehouse Stadium.
“That’s exactly what we’re looking for, trying to be sharp. And that’s what we talked about during the week, trying to continue to cut down on our penalties as we have been recently. We want to try to eliminate turnovers,” Scenters said. “We wanted to be sharp, and for the most part we were. And we got to work on some things, actually, and then just good blessing to get the JV kids in there to play extensive minutes in the second half.”
Garrard (5-4, 3-2 District AAA-5) rolled up 474 yards by halftime and ended up outgaining Estill (0-9, 0-5) 568 yards to 159.
Billy Abney was 8 of 11 passing for 174 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score in the first half, Garrett Caudill had a touchdown running and receiving and six different Garrard players reached the end zone.
Abney said the way Garrard played Friday was crucial as the playoffs neared.
“It just gives us momentum going into the playoffs. We’ve got one regular season game left, and it gives us momentum going into that game too,” said Abney, who threw for 139 yards last week and said the passing game is starting to come on. “If they’re stopping the run we can always pass, so that’s always a plus. I’ve been throwing a little better and the receivers have been catching a whole lot better as well.”
Scenters said the Lions will need to be able to throw the ball to get through the postseason.
“It’s been coming, and that’s a credit to our receivers that are coming on. They’re starting to catch the football consistently. Billy is starting to trust them, and that’s a huge part of our game that we need to get going as well as we can,” he said. “We’ve been kind of ground-and-pound, kind of grind it out, but we need to be as multi-dimensional as we can.”
The Lions were hitting on all cylinders early, taking just two plays to open the scoring.
After a 29-yard kickoff return by Jaylan McPherson and a personal foul on Estill gave Garrard the ball on the Engineers’ 38-yard line, Abney ran for 21 yards. Layne Cumby then scored from 17 yards out and Caudill ran in the two-point conversion to give the Lions an 8-0 lead 37 seconds into the game.
The teams traded punts, and then Estill quarterback Kris Dennis found some daylight on the left side and outran the Lions’ defense for a 91-yard score to make it 8-6.
But that was about the only mistake the Lions made, as Dennis finished with 88 rushing yards in the first half and 101 for the game.
From there, Garrard took over.
Abney hit Caudill for a 40-yard gain and Cumby for 15 yards, setting up a 7-yard blast by Noah Williams. A 40-yard punt return by McPherson helped set up Abney’s 14-yard scoring run as Garrard led 24-6 after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, McPherson scored from a yard out to cap a seven-play, 75-yard drive to make it 31-6. Mike Redmon later scored on a 17-yard run, Caudill caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Abney, then closed out the first half with a 4-yard scoring run. Caudill also made the extra point, which made it 51-6 and guaranteed a running clock in the second half. Garrard had a 474-101 yardage edge in the first half.
Weston Rowsey finished off the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Rowsey had 80 yards rushing and Abney added 52 as the Lions had 300 rushing yards in the first half and 394 overall. Jacob Smith caught three passes for 71 yards, and Caudill had two catches for 57 yards.
Garrard wraps up the regular season this Friday by hosting Madison Southern, led by sophomore running back Damien Harris, who already has scholarship offers from a slew of Division I schools. Scenters said the Eagles will be a tough matchup for the Lions.
“Obviously he’s living up to his billing, and we knew theyre much improved as team. They’ve improved defensively, offensively and up front is where they’ve improved the most,” Scenters said. “So we’ve got a tall test, and we’ve got to be able to play well in the coming week, because everything we do is to try to gear up and be ready for the playoffs. We stumbled early in district play, but that doesn’t mean we can’t reach our goals, and the playoffs is where we reach our goals.”
Estill County 6 0 0 0 — 6
Garrard County 24 27 0 8 — 59
Garrard — Layne Cumby 17 run (Garrett Caudill run), 11:23.
Estill — Kris Dennis 91 run (run failed), 7:01.
Garrard — Noah Williams 7 run (Caudill run), 4;37.
Garrard — Billy Abney 14 run (Cumby run), 1:34.
Garrard — Jaylan McPherson 1 run (Caudill kick), 8:49.
Garrard — Mike Redmon 17 run (Caudil kick), 5:21.
Garrard — Caudill 17 pass from Abney (kick failed), 2:21.
Garrard — Caudill 4 run (Caudill kick), :30.
Garrard — Weston Rowsey 10 run (Slade Crutchfield run), 6:46.
First downs 7 29
Rushes-yards 26-141 39-394
Passing 18 174
Total Net Yards 159 568
Comp-Att-Int 5-13-0 8-12-0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 6-47 4-32
RUSHING—Estill, Kris Dennis 12-101, Blake Harrison 2-14, Greg Stamper 3-12, Cordell Day 4-11, Deron Miller 1-6, Chipper Hitchcock 4-minus 3. Garrard, Noah Williams 11-88, Weston Rowsey 3-80, Billy Abney 5-52, Jaylan McPherson 5-48, Matt Carpenter 5-43, Layne Cumby 2-35, Garrett Caudill 2-21, Mike Redmon 1-17, Zach Howard 1-8, Austin Sullivan 2-2.
PASSING—Estill, Dennis 5-13-0-18. Garrard, Abney 8-11-0-174, Slade Crutchfield 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING—Estill, Hitchcock 3-minus 2, Jon Fike 2-18, Jon Plowman 1-2. Garrard, Jacob Smith 3-71, Caudil 2-57, J.T. Lyon 1-23, Cumby 1-15, Redmon 1-8.