TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By Denis House
The Endzone Staff
HYDEN — The South Laurel Cardinals ended Coach Matt Rhymer’s first season at the helm on a high note, beating Leslie County, 30-26.
“Three and seven looks a lot better than 2-8,” Rhymer said. “This win was big for the seniors. They stepped up and it was good to send them off with a win. I’m proud of them.”
While the seniors stepped up, it was a freshman that shined for the Cardinals. Jared Grubb unofficially rushed for 110 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. When he wasn’t rushing the ball, he was catching it, as he caught three passes for 46 yards, including an acrobatic one that kept a drive alive, or passing it, as his halfback pass to Jonathan Jenkins gave South a huge first down to keep another drive going.
“We practiced that trick play,” Rhymer said. “I told the guys you never know when you are going to need it on a big third down.”
Leslie County struck first on just two plays, the huge one a 68-yard completion from Kevin Whitaker to Stefan Lewis on the first play of the game that took the ball all the way down to the two-yard line. On the next play, Aaron Clark carried it in, and with the point after good, the Eagles were quickly on top, 7-0.
After South was forced to punt on its first possession, it was time for the defense to come up with a big play when Brandon Brooks-Sutton intercepted a Whitaker pass, giving the Cards the ball on their own 48.
Eight plays later, Jenkins carried it in from two-yards out. Grubb then scored the two-point conversion, and with 4:55 left in the first, South was on top, 8-7. That’s how the first quarter would end.
South had the ball on the 24 at the start of the second quarter when Grubb fumbled, and Leslie County recovered. That turnover proved costly as it took the Eagles only three plays to once again find the end zone when Whitaker carried it in from one-yard out, and with the point after good, Leslie had regained the lead, 14-8.
It stayed that way until the 4:48 mark of the second quarter when the Cardinals capped off a nine-play, 49-yard drive, which included the huge halfback option from Grubb to Jenkins on fourth-and-five that gave the Cards a first down on the 20. Jenkins would find Jacob Hale for a 16-yard score. Grubb again ran in the two-point conversion to give the Cardinals a 16-14 advantage.
South again fumbled the ball away with 3:45 left, resulting in another Leslie County score to make it 20-16 at the half when Whitaker hooked up with Clark for 19-yards.
The Cards recovered a Leslie County fumble at the 36 with 8:06 left in the third quarter. That turnover resulted in another Cardinal score when Jenkins carried it in from one-yard out, and with 3:53 left, South Laurel was now on top by two, 22-20.
The Cards made it 30-20 with 8:32 left in the game when Grubb raced in from 13 yards out. He added the two-point conversion to put his team up by 10.
Leslie County struck right back when Whitaker found Peyton Pugh for a 15-yard score with 7:11 left. The try for two failed, leaving the Eagles trailing by four, 30-26.
Leslie then recovered the onside kick and drove it down to the Cardinal nine, but a sack moved it back to the 13, then three straight incompletions gave South Laurel the ball back with 5:52 left. From there, the Cards put together a long drive that ate the rest of the time off of the clock to preserve the 30-26 win.
“We overcame a lot of adversity to win this game,” Rhymer said “We lost three guys to injuries and I had a lot of freshmen out there. They stuck to the game plan. We wanted to spread them out a little. I’m proud of the guys. A win like this helps us in the process. For us to win the game says a lot as to where we are going.”