Football Patriots romp 55-14

Published 2:25 pm Thursday, September 28, 2017

BOWLING GREEN — The Ballard Memorial Bombers were knocked off balance in the first 2-1/2 minutes Saturday afternoon and never recovered. 

Tra Carey’s 53-yard run for a touchdown with only 48 seconds off the clock followed by Darius Napier’s 69-yard punt return for a score less than two minutes later foreshadowed Lincoln County’s 55-14 rout of Ballard Memorial on Jim Ross Field at Warren East High School in Bowling Green.

It was a long, long ride for both teams – just over two hours for Lincoln and 2-1/2 hours for Ballard Memorial – for a short ballgame. The rout was on in the first half as the Patriots scored four touchdowns in the first quarter and six for the first half to invoke the running clock early. Napier, who rushed for 71 yards on seven carries, set the clock on a non-stop run with a 10-yard touchdown run with 4:58 to go in the second quarter.

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“It was a long trip, probably one of the longest we’ve taken since I’ve been here,” Lincoln coach Travis Leffew said. “We challenged the guys all week long to come down here and take care of business. And they did. The guys were really focused on that and did a great job of executing our game plan.”

Lincoln’s second offensive possession was it’s longest sustained drive of the game as the Patriots marched 66 yards to the end zone in 10 plays. After a first-down run by Carey and first-down pass plays from quarterback Bryson Yaden to Josh Coddington (2) and Sawyer Carrier, Carey, who had 125 yards on four carries, punctuated the series with a 10-yard touchdown and Emma Kaiser booted the point after kick for a 21-0 margin.

The Patriots would own a 27-0 advantage as the first quarter ended. A Bomber fumble, the first of three lost possessions for Ballard in the first half, set up the team’s last score of the period. Napier scored on the second snap of the drive, going 36 yards to the goal line, but the play was called back on a holding penalty. Lincoln would not be denied, though. Zack Hazlett scooted 26 yards to advance the ball then Yaden scored two plays later on a 7-yard keeper.

Ballard Memorial (0-5) never crossed midfield until the closing seconds of the first quarter. Erick Marinelli, who went 13-for-18 for 133 yards, hit Drew Cox for a 24-yard pass to get to the Lincoln 45. The drive, Ballard’s fourth of the game, went to the Patriots’ 17 before an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a sack on Marinelli by Napier for a 12-yard loss stalled the drive.

Lincoln fielded the punt at its own 9, but only needed four plays to reach the end zone. Yaden, who was 6-for-10 for 99 yards, connected with Carrier for a 61-yard touchdown pass to make it 34-0. 

The Patriots got the ball back after another Bomber fumble and, with 4:58 left in the first half, Napier capped off the two-play, 65-yard drive with a 10-yard run down the sideline for a 41-0 lead and the start of the running clock.

Ballard Memorial averted a shutout when Bryce Haynes found a hole in the Patriot defense on the opening drive of the second half. Haynes, who led the Bombers with 88 yards on 13 carries, ran the ball right up the middle for an 8-yard touchdown with 8:49 on the clock in the third quarter. 

There would be a flurry of scoring in the third quarter. 

After the Bomber score, Lincoln’s Lane Slone, who had 60 yards on three carries, went 20 yards to the end zone on his final carry with 5:20 on the clock. With 2:14 showing, Cox, who had six receptions for 150 yards, pulled in a 76-yard touchdown pass from Marinelli to put up a second Bomber TD. Hunter Bray passed to Khalil Griffin for the two-point conversion. Then, as time expired in the third, Napier returned the ensuing kickoff 81 yards to make it 55-14.

While Leffew hadn’t predicted such a dominating effort by the Patriots, he knew it was possible.

“It depends on with our team who shows up,” he said. “We’ve got a very good football team. When they show up and execute the game plan and play the way that they can, we can do this type of thing to people.  We weren’t able to do that earlier in the season with Garrard County and East Jessamine. But they’ve got a little fight to them now and they’re playing Patriot football and not individual football.”

Lincoln had 413 yards offense, 314 rushing. Ballard Memorial had 267 yards offense.

With the win, Lincoln improves to 3-3. Just where Leffew wants his Patriots as they prepare for the start of district play in two weeks.

“I talked to the guys earlier and challenged them earlier when we lost those two games to Garrard County and East Jessamine, saying we had to fight back to get back to .500 in what I call the preseason,” Leffew said. “And the guys answered the challenge and we finished the preseason at .500.”

“Now it’s go time. Depending on how long we play this year depends on what we do in the next couple weeks, so we’ve got to be focused for a tremendous Pulaski County team,” he said. “Luckily we have a bye week coming up so our guys can heal up and we can get ready for that game.”