TIMES TRIBUNE (CORBIN, Ky.)
By Denis House / The Endzone Staff
LONDON— Sometimes the scoreboard doesn’t tell the entire story.
Sure Madison Southern rolled over South Laurel, 47-7. Sure star running back Damien Harris rushed for 122 yards and four touchdowns.
What the scoreboard didn’t tell was the fact that the Cardinals were with nine regular starters. It also didn’t measure the heart Coach Matt Rhymer’s team showed in the face of adversity.
“I’m very proud of my team,” Rhymer said. “I’m proud of the fans that stayed and are clapping for our team. We could have folded but we didn’t. We fought to the end.”
It would have been easy for South Laurel (2-3) to fold at the half when the Cards were already down 41-0. But they didn’t and even put together a nice scoring drive late in the game to avoid being shutout for the second consecutive week.
Harris, who has committed to Michigan, proved to be the real deal on his team’s first possession. In fact, it started with the kickoff, where he fielded the short kick at midfield and returned it to the Cardinal 30. On the first play from scrimmage, he raced 30 yards untouched to make it 7-0.
It could have been a lot worse for South Laurel in the first half as the Eagles (5-0) had two touchdowns called back on penalties, an 83-yarder by Harris and a 53-yarder by Casey Dionne, both holding penalties.
Harris did score from 13 yards out after a short punt gave the No. 10 ranked team in Class 5A the ball at the 13. His score with 11:06 left in the first half made it 13-0. Southern would score again with 7:25 left in the half as Aaron Sipple broke free and scampered 39 yards for the score and a 20-0 lead.
On South’s next possession, the Cards fumbled the ball and Jonathan Lamb scooped it up and ran it in from 13 yards out to make it 27-0.
South got a little offense going on its next possession thanks to the hard running of freshman Jared Grubb, who garnered praise from his coach afterwards.
“He absolutely played his heart out,” Rhymer said. “He did things, along with (freshman quarterback) Matt Harp that shows good things for the future of this program.”
Unfortunately for the Cards, the drive ended and they were forced to punt. On the first play from scrimmage on Southern’s next possession, quarterback Aaron Sloan hooked up with Austin Beetlestone for a 67-yard touchdown reception to up the lead to 34-0.
The Eagles made it 41-0 after an interception led to a 46-yard score by Harris with 2:22 left in the first half.
Southern’s first possession of the second half resulted in their final score of the game when Harris carried it in from four-yards out, but the big play was a 56 yard run from Logan Coomer to set up the short touchdown run by Harris.
South finally got on the scoreboard with 6:39 left in the fourth quarter on a one-yard sneak by Harp to make the final 47-7. The Cards were helped along by three Southern penalties and a pass play from Harp to Grubb that covered 29-yards.
“To finish the way we did shows that these kids believe in what they are doing,” Rhymer said, “Our days are coming. We aren’t out of it. Hopefully we can get healthy and win some games.”
South Laurel will be on the road at Lincoln County Friday.