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Bombs away on first play leads to romp

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Bearcats roll past overmatched Braves; Russell scores three times, Maxberry twice

By John Herndon

 Some perspective might be in order when discussing Anderson County’s 43-8 win over Grant County Friday night.

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The scoreboard says the contest was a rout. The stat sheet, however, went a bit farther and showed the scoreboard was being kind.

It was a massive blowout much more powerful than what was showing at the east end of Bob Ware Field. Consider that Grant County ran 14 more plays than the Bearcats, yet had almost 200 fewer yards.The Rebels held the ball more than four minutes yet lost by 35 points. Less than five minutes into the contest, Anderson had run four offensive plays, yet led 21-0.

If not for the running clock starting early in the second quarter and Anderson substituting liberally in the second half, it could have been much worse than the 35-point margin.

“I thought we came in prepared,” smiled Anderson junior Kynan Russell, who scored three touchdowns in three different ways.

Anderson coach Mark Peach said his team had to the triple whammy of being heavily-favored, having a week off after an emotional win over Franklin County and scrambling to find a place to practice.

“We had five days of monsoon season,” Peach quipped. “This has been the wettest September in Kentucky history. We were trying to find any place to get some practice work in. We were inside a couple of days. We were on the baseball field a couple of days. I was proud of the guys the way they came out and executed.”

The Bearcats, ranked in everybody’s Top 10 in Class 5A, flexed their muscles quickly, burning Grant with a 41-yard scoring pass from quarterback Jagger Gillis to Charles Andrew Collins on their first offensive play.

“All week long the coaches had told us that would be the first play of the game,” Gillis said.

“That is the way we planned it,” Peach added. We came out and started practice with that play every day.”

Grant, which looked to throw at every opportunity despite completing just 10-of-26 passes, quickly moved to the Anderson 9 as quarterback Connor Knipp hit Colby Glasses on a pair of passes, totaling 51 yards. Anderson was also generous, being flagged for a pass interference on the drive.

The Bearcats were hit with 14 penalties for 123 yards on the night.

Grant’s drive, stalled, though, prompting the Braves to attempt a field goal from 26 yards. The Bearcat line broke through to block the kick -- Ryan Stratton was given credit by the stat crew, but Jacob Luster was also through the line. In the ensuing scramble, Anderson’s Kynan Russell picked the ball up at the Anderson 7, looked around to see if the play was dead, then took off on his way to a 93-yard scoring run.

“I just saw the ball lying there on the ground,” Russell said. “At first, I thought it was a dead ball.”

Peach said Russell did his job. “He is supposed to be there to scoop it up,” the coach said. “He did that tonight. He just took the ball from a group of guys.”

Russell would finish the game scoring on a five-yard run and being on the receiving end of a 91-yard strike from Gillis to open the second half.

Before the first quarter was over, Brennan Maxberry had motored 49 yards for a score to make it 28-0 and remove any doubt that Anderson would not be ready to play its overmatched foe.

By the end of the period, Anderson had piled up 139 offensive yards on 10 plays and had the long return by Russell. For the night, the Bearcats averaged better than 11 yards on just 29 snaps.

Grant finally avoided the shutout when John Skilling fell on a blocked punt in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter. By that time, most of the red Anderson jerseys were clean as junior varsity players got extended action.

“On the punt, we were backed up and didn’t have our spacing right,” Peach explained.

Anderson, which improved to 6-0, could celebrate the win nearly everyone expected.