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While a 27-7 loss Friday night was not the way new Spencer County Head Football Coach Mike Marksbury wanted the season to start, he’s already convinced he’s got a team that never is going to quit.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t win, but looking at the big picture, there are a lot of things that were very positive. First and foremost, the kids never quit,” said Marksbury.
He said Bardstown was a better team than he imagined, but the Bears stayed competitive throughout.
The two teams struggled on offense early on but Bardstown was able to put together a drive late in the first quarter and took a 7-0 lead on an 11-yard quarterback run and successful PAT.
Spencer County wasted little time in answering as its first possession in the second quarter ended when junior quarterback Trent Holbrook scrambled and then lofted a 45-yard pass that Matt Black caught and then carried into the end zone. The successful kick by Brandon Taylor knotted the score at 7-7 with just over nine minutes left in the first half.
The Bears had a chance to stop Bardstown on their next possession when a penalty put the host Tigers in a 4th and 12. Their quarterback scrambled and then got a generous spot to barely make the first down marker at Spencer County’s 12-yard line. Three plays later, they scored on a quick pass, but the extra point attempt was no good, making the score 13-7.
The Bears again were unable to generate any offense and Bardstown took over with just under five minutes remaining and a chance to build its lead before the half. Marksbury said he called a timeout to challenge his defense, and they answered the call, stopping the Tigers’ drive and the teams went to the half with Bardstown up 13-7.
However, in the second half, Bardstown took the opening possession and kept the ball moving on the ground, crossing over into Spencer County territory and then scoring on a 38-yard run by the quarterback. A two-point conversion made it 21-7.
The Bears then put together a threat with a drive helped along by an 18-yard run by Black, but the drive stalled and the Bears had to punt.
After exchanging possessions, the Tigers got the ball toward the end of the quarter and scored on a 16-yard run to go up 27-7. Neither team scored in the final quarter, a positive that, in the coach’s mind, signaled that his team never stopped fighting.
Overall, Marskbury said his defense played solid, hitting hard, making good tackles and keeping a very quick Bardstown from striking on numerous big plays.
He noted that Bardstown passed for 89 yards, but it took 14 completions to get that yardage. He said the Bears defenders did a good job of giving up the short pass and keeping the receivers in front of them and making the stop.
On offense, the inability to establish a consistent running game again kept the Bears struggling, which kept the defense on the field and may have led to a little fatigue in the second half.
The Bears ran for 118 yards, paced by Black’s 44 yards on four carries while Chase Smith totaled 33 yards on seven carries. Cody Chesser had 14 yards on five carries before suffering an injury early in the first half.
Holbrook scrambled for 20 yards on nine carries and was four of six passing with Black catching two and Trenton Bryant and Hunter Herring each catching one.
On defense, Cody Goodlett led the way with 16 tackles, with Michael Fowler getting nine and Morgan Brown recording eight.
Next up is East Jessamine at home. Marksbury thinks the two teams are evenly matched and will run similar schemes on offense, but they feature senior Cameron Thomas, a highly recruited running back.
East Jessamine is coming off a last-minute loss to Tates Creek and both teams will be looking for their first victory.
Game time is 7:30 Friday night and Marksbury is hoping for a good turnout from the community.