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FOOTBALL: Life is good at the top for Bearcats

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Defense dominates as Bearcats rout East Jessamine for sixth straight win

By John Herndon

NICHOLASVILLE – Oh, to have the life of a powerhouse.

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It's a life that can have its share of blowouts, like Anderson County's 41-7 romp past East Jessamine Friday, and banter.

“I was happy for Searce,” Bearcat defensive end Darius Harvey said while cracking a huge smile. “He just didn't score like me.”

Landon Searcy, Harvey's counterpart at the other defensive end spot in the Bearcats' 4-3 defense, swiped a pass by East Jessamine quarterback Coty Garrett and returned it 19 yards to the Jaguar 20 on the first play of the second quarter.

“It was my first pick,” Searcy, a senior, beamed.

And it officially signified the start of a rout.

Three plays later, Zachary Carmichael hit Ross Cox with the first of their three touchdown combos, this one from 11 yards, to put Anderson up 10-0. The Bearcats, now 8-1 and on a six-game winning streak, might have been even more dominant than the final margin would indicate.

Searcy and Harvey were big reasons as the Bearcat defense completely shut down the East Jessamine attack, stuffing the hosts for a minus-17 yards on the ground and 108 yards total offense.

Carmichael and Cox teamed up seven times for 171 yards and three touchdowns. The junior quarterback finished with 282 yards passing, hitting on 15-of-20 throws, and ran for 134 yards on 10 carries.

Cox, considered one of Kentucky's best receivers, had not caught a pass in the rousing win over Franklin County the week before, but had a big night before going down with what was thought to be a deep thigh bruise early in the third quarter.

Anderson piled up 506 yards of offense, averaging better than 10 yards a snap. So dominant were the Bearcats, kicking specialist Joe Rose was never called upon to punt the ball away. However, the senior was perfect on five extra point attempts and nailed field goals from 29 and 33 yards.

“It was a matter of a lot of people chipping in,” Anderson coach Mark Peach said.

There was the post-game banter, but for the 48 minutes on the field, the Bearcats were as steely as an assassin, as business-like as a Wall Street broker.

The Bearcats responded after squandering a chance for two touchdowns on their first two drives. Chris Toomey fumbled at the goal line, a sour ending to an otherwise impressive drive that had covered 79 yards in just five plays following the opening kickoff.

Then on third-and-5 at the East Jessamine 12, Carmichael and Cox failed to connect, meaning that the Bearcats' second drive would end with Rose connecting for three points.

Instead of being up 14-0, the Bearcats only led 3-0 after a quarter.

“Every time you give up an opportunity to score, it is a letdown, but we were able to get back up for the next play,” senior linebacker Huston Page said.

Indeed.

After Searcy's interception set up the Bearcats first touchdown, Anderson scored on every possession until the middle of the fourth quarter. By that time it was 41-0.

Carmichael and Cox had burned East Jessamine with scoring passes of 49 and 12 yards, while Carmichael capped drives of 47 and 78 yards with touchdown runs.

East Jessamine was simply unable to dent the Anderson defense, save on a 40-yard pass from Garratt to Kahnan Leslie in the second quarter.

“Yes, sir, we did really good,” Harvey said when asked about the defensive domination. They weren't coming at us too hard, and we just locked in on our assignments.”

East Jessamine tried some trickery with several reverses on kickoffs, but Anderson did not fall for them.

“Their reverses can be very deceptive,” Peach said. “I could not be more proud of how the kids stayed in their lanes tonight.”

East Jessamine's only score came late when Brandon Mahan returned a fumble 79 yards for a touchdown. By that time, most of the Anderson players on the field were wearing sparkling white jerseys. The dirty work had been done and the starters were out of the game.

Which brings us full circle to Searcy's pick that started the avalanche. It was almost a lineman's dream.

“We tell our linemen if they are going to run screens – and East Jessamine runs a lot of screens – to get over there,” Peach said.

Searcy added, “Blake Trimble hit (the quarterback) but right before the play, Coach (Duane) Hammons told me to watch (Leslie). The quarterback threw it right to me.”

It was a situation few linemen find themselves in.

“I just got it and ran,” Searcy laughed. “I was trying to score.”

Alas, East Jessamine's Jaxon Meads pushed Searcy out of bounds 20 yards from paydirt, a note that was not lost on Harvey, who returned one for a touchdown against South Oldham early in the year.

Harvey was asked if he had been giving his teammate lessons on running with the ball.

“I tried to,” he said, “but he hasn't taken it to heart.”

Harvey, like those nearby, broke into laughter.

That's how life at the top is supposed to be.

 

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