Bears rout Generals in season opener

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By John Shindlebower

There are good starts, and then there are fantastic starts. The beginning of the season for the Spencer County Bears football team would fall into the latter category as the Bears dominated from start to finish in a 56-7 thrashing of Thomas Nelson in Bardstown.

“I told the captains as we walked to the coin toss that we have accomplished some nice things in the last two plus years, but one thing we hadn’t done was start off 1-0,” said Coach Mike Marksbury. If the players took that as a challenge, they met it early and often.
Thomas Nelson, playing its first full varsity season, had trouble on the opening kickoff and started its first drive on the 2-yard-line. The first play netted a one-yard loss, and on the second play, Spencer County defenders, led by Logan Holbrook buried the ball-carrier in the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 lead with less than a minute off the clock.
After the free kick gave the Bears possession on their own 36-yard-line, Spencer County’s offense showed quick-strike ability. Shawn Boykin took a handoff, got to the outside and kept on running, racing past the Thomas Nelson secondary on his way to 64-yard touchdown run. Derek Clemons hit the extra point kick and the Bears were up 9-0.
The defense held Bardstown to a quick three and out and the Bears offense was back on the field at their own 49. After a penalty, the Bears faced a third down and 17 when quarterback Jacob DeRudder hit Holbrook with a pass completion. Holbrook was able to evade some defenders and made his way down to the 15-yard line. After a pass interference penalty moved the ball to the 8-yard line, Holbrook took a handoff and ran up the middle for the score. Clemons was again good on the PAT and the Bears were up 16-0.
The Bears’ defense forced another Thomas Nelson punt and the Bears took over on their own 40-yard line. Boykin got the ball again and the result was the same, a touchdown run, this one a 60-yard sprint. Clemens’ kick make it 23-0 with just under five minutes left in the first quarter.
The pattern continued as the Bear defense forced another punt and the Bears’ offense came onto the field looking for more points. They found it this time when DeRudder found Boykin for a 68-yard pass play and touchdown. Clemens’ kick was wide right but the Bears were up 29-0.
In the second quarter, Thomas Nelson put together a nice drive and scored on an 8-yard quarterback keeper to make it 29-7. They attempted an onside kick that was recovered by Braxton Leff and the Bears were on the move again. Holbrook picked up 26 yards on a run and then Boykin took the ball on a handoff and rumbled 19 yards to the one-yard line before Holbrook finished the drive off with a run up the middle. Clemens got the PAT and it was 36-7.
The two teams then traded possessions and punts before Spencer County struck once more right before halftime when Holbrook broke free for a 52-yard touchdown run to put his team up 42-7.
In the second half, it was Holbrook again who broke the backs and spirits of Thomas Nelson when he took the kick-off back for a touchdown that put the Bears up 49-7 and under high school rules, forced a running clock throughout the second half.
From that point, Marksbury used mostly his reserves. On defense, they continued to hold the Generals in check and on offense, they proved they could move the ball and scored with 3:31 left in the game when Nathan Ryan broke a 39-yard touchdown run to account for the 56-7 final score.
Marksbury was pleased with the debut of his 2013 squad. “The kids were focused and we had a game plan and they executed it pretty well. We had some alignment issues and a busted coverage or two that led to their touchdown, but overall I thought it was a perfect way to start the season.”
Offensively, the Bears didn’t show their full arsenal because of the score.
“We only ran 24 offensive plays for the game and scored seven touchdowns. We scored so much early, I really wanted to throw it a few more times but I didn’t think that was really the thing to do there,” Marksbury said.
Still, DeRudder, the sophomore who was starting his first varsity game, was 3-3 passing for 115 yards and a touchdown. True to Marksbury’s statements after last week’s scrimmage, the running game appears to be the Bear’s strength again this year and Boykin led the way with 144 yards and a touchdown on just three carries. He also had 72 yards on two receptions and another touchdown. Holbrook scored three rushing touchdowns and picked up 95 yards on 8 carries, in addition to his kick-off return for a touchdown.
The back-up backs also got some good yardage. Ryan picked 43 yards on two carries and one touchdown, Branden Leff gained 33 yards on four carries, Jacob Barnes got 20 yards on one carry and Austin Ashley had six yards on one carry.
Spencer County’s defense also earned Marksbury’s praise.
“Our defense was solid. We gave up 41 yards rushing and 38 yards passing so anytime you hold an opponent under 100 yards total offense, you have to be happy. The thing that stood out the most was how hard we played. We swarmed to the football and we were physical.” Michael Fowler paced the defense with seven tackles, including two for a loss. Xavier Nelson was also in on seven stops.
Marksbury also expressed increased confidence in Clemens on special teams.
“He’s doing a great job for us,” he said. “He has a strong leg and the more reps he gets, the more consistent he will be.”
On Friday, the Bears will make the short trip to Shelbyville to take on the Shelby County Rockets at 7:30.