MOUNT STERLING — George Rogers Clark coach Steven Collins will have to wait at least another week to get his first win as coach of the Cardinals.
Clark rallied from a 20-3 deficit, but host Montgomery County spoiled Collins’ return to Mount Sterling and remained undefeated on the season with a 34-23 triumph over the Cardinals Friday night at Cunningham Field.
Collins spent the last two seasons as offensive coordinator with the Indians before taking over as coach of the Cardinals last winter and remains close friends with Montgomery County coach Dan Gooch.
“At this point, it’s all bittersweet,” Collins said afterward. “I’m proud of the way the kids fought. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere than right here (at Clark County). I love these kids and we’re going to find a way to get this done.”
One of Collins’ former players — Matt Tuttle — had a big hand in the Indians’ victory, throwing for three touchdowns, while rushing for another. Tuttle completed 13-of-21 passes for 233 yards and rushed for 56 more. Blake Preston added 107 yards rushing and one score, while Lance Lockridge caught four passes for 96 yards.
Clark trailed 26-23 with 2:58 remaining and driving, but Montgomery County’s Lance Lockridge intercepted Darian Skinner’s pass with 1:36 remaining. Tuttle completed his performance with a 10-yard touchdown strike and two-point conversion pass to Chase Hall for the final margin.
The Cards (0-2) ended up with 190 yards rushing, led by Darian Farris with 69 yards. Darian Skinner followed with 58 yards on the ground and two scores.
The Indians scored on their first two drives, with Tuttle jumpstarting the Indians’ offense with a 37-yard touchdown strike to Lockridge. Preston’s 1-yard run, followed by a conversion run by Tuttle on the second series gave Montgomery a 14-3 advantage.
On its opening drive, a botched punt attempt by the Cards led to the Indians’ initial score. On its next series, Clark had a 34-yard touchdown negated because of a holding penalty, but settled for a 28-yard field goal by kicker Danny Dailey.
The Indians pushed the margin to 20-3 with 8:20 remaining in the first half. Tuttle directed the 85-yard drive with a pair of pass completions totaling 45 yards. Preston added a 25-yard run in the drive, capped by Tuttle’s 1-yard score.
“We dug ourselves a hole,” Collins said. “We were in a funk (coming out after the open week) and I was hoping we would come out and play the way we did to open the second half to start the game. By that time, we were too far behind.”
Clark trimmed the lead in half with 3:11 remaining in the opening half following a fumble recovery by Nick Bailey inside the Indians’ territory. Da’von Marshall had a 10-yard catch and a 10-yard run that set up an 5-yard touchdown run by Darian Skinner.
Tuttle rushed for 33 yards and threw for 143 yards and one score in the opening half, while Preston had 69 yards rushing.
“He’s a playmaker,” Collins said of Tuttle. “They’ve got a good football team and they do things the right way. They have a veteran group and experience shows.”
Clark managed just 67 total yards in the first half. A 25-yard rush by Farris was the team’s largest gain of the opening half. Clark had five fumbles and lost two of those in the first two quarters.
Tuttle struck again on the hosts’ first drive of the second half and completed a 10-yard pass to teammate Chase Hall on fourth and goal, pushing the margin to 26-10 with 4:35 remaining in the third quarter.
Clark responded 20 seconds later with a 26-yard touchdown run by C.D. Spight, set up by Khmarkis Blanton’s 33-yard kickoff return, pulling Clark to within 26-17.
A 44-yard run by Farris set up Skinner’s 1-yard touchdown run to open the fourth frame. The score by Skinner made the score 26-23.
Unlike the opening week loss to Corbin, Clark will have less time to dwell on the setback.
“The good thing is, we don’t have a week off and we’ll get right back at it on Monday,” Collins said. “We’ve got guys playing first-time positions and it’s a growing process, learning everything. We’ll get there.”
Clark 03 07 07 06 - 23
Montgomery 14 06 06 08 - 34
MC – Tuttle 37-pass to Lockridge (kick blocked), 9:37
GRC – Dailey 28-yard field goal, 4:45
MC – Preston 1-run (Tuttle run), 1:08
MC – Tuttle 1-run (conversion failed), 8:21
GRC – Skinner 5-run (Dailey kick), 3:11
MC – Tuttle 10-pass to Hall (conversion failed), 4:35
GRC – Spight 26-run (Dailey kick), 4:15
GRC – Skinner 1-run (kick failed), 11:40
MC – Tuttle 10-pass to Hall (Tuttle to Hall), 41.8