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An effective run-it-down-their-throat offense, combined with a defense that made the big plays, allowed the Spencer County Bears to collect what their coach calls the biggest win in the school’s history with a 38-25 victory on the road over Henry County Friday night.
“This is no doubt the biggest win in our program’s history,” said Head Coach Matt Powenski, whose Bears, at 2-5 on the season, came in as the decided underdogs against the ranked Wildcats.
But Powenski had a definite game plan in mind, and it was the right one. Simply put, the Bears were going to keep the ball on the ground and let the backfield go to work.
“We decided to just run the ball at them,” said Powenski. “I’m proud of our players. They did what we coached them all week.”
Cameron Smith got the bulk of the rushing work, collecting over 270 yards, but Erico Smith took 14 carries and senior Eric Doty stepped up to take some of the load off by rushing 17 times as Spencer County ran the ball on each one of it’s 68 offensive snaps.
The Bears set the tone early on, taking the opening kick-off and running 11 plays to march 64 yards, scoring on Doty’s one-yard run. Tyler Calvert connected on the extra point - giving the Bears an early 7-0 lead.
Henry County struck back quickly on their first possession, connecting on a 51-yard pass play for a touchdown to tie it at 7-7.
The Bears then took over at their own 20 and Cameron Smith broke free for a huge 65-yard run to set the Bears up for their second score, which came a few plays later when Doty again got the call and scored from four yards out to go up 14-7.
The Bears’ defense then stepped up, stopping Henry County on a fourth down and one at the Spencer County 24 yard line. The Bears got a long run, this time by Erico Smith and Cameron Smith eventually took it in from about five yards out. The extra point hit the left upright and bounced away, but the Bears took a 20-7 lead.
The Bears defense then forced a Henry County fumble, which Mitchell Guzman recovered. However, Spencer County was not able to convert the turnover into points, but the defense held strong and kept the Wildcats from scoring, taking the 20-7 lead to the half.
Henry County took the opening snap and immediately went to the air trying to get back into the game. But a long pass attempt was picked off by Spencer’s Bryant Fowler. However, they followed that take-away with a fumble of their own, and Henry County was back in business.
Henry County went to the air again, and when a receiver caught a pass over the middle, he broke free toward the end zone, only to be hit and fumble, which the Bears recovered in the end zone.
Spencer County then drove the length of the field, a bulk of the yardage coming on a big 58 yard run by Cameron Smith. The drive bogged down at the 17 yard line, but Calvert came in and connected on a 25-yard field goal to put the Bears up 23-7 with just over six minutes left in the third quarter.
The Bears’ defense held again and forced Henry County into a three plays and a punt. The Bears were able to eat up a lot of clock, but had to punt shortly before the end of the quarter, holding a 23-7 lead.
Henry County struck quickly in the fourth quarter on a 54-yard pass play to tighten the game at 23-13 with just under 11 minutes remaining.
The Bears took over at the 45 yard line following a short kick. They then stayed on the ground and slowly marched down the field . Facing a fourth and six at the 12 yard line, Cameron Smith took the handoff, found a hole in the middle and ran it into the end zone for what appeared would be the clincher, putting the Bears up 31-13 with just under six minutes remaining.
However, Henry County was able to score again quickly on a short touchdown pass, going up 31-19 with 4:26 remaining.
On offense, Spencer County was unable to pick up a first down, forcing another punt and giving the Wildcats another shot to close the gap. Backed up deep in their own territory, the Wildcats tried to mount a drive, but when their quarterback dropped back, he was hit by David Cross and Kory Hartman fell on the loose ball in the end zone for another score. Kevin Hume salvaged a bobbled snap on the extra point and ran in for the two-point conversion to go up 38-19.
Henry County would score once more, but the game was out of reach and the Bears pulled off the upset after coming so close against some top teams several times this year.
“We have been getting better each week and finally put it all together,” said Powenski. “We are still learning how to win.”
While Powenski credited the offense for sticking to the game plan, he praised the defense as well.
“The defense played outstanding. Besides the big plays, we stopped them.” Part of the success was the fact that Erico Smith was rested some on offense with Doty picking up the slack. Likewise, Cameron Smith was kept off the defensive side of the ball most of the night to conserve his energy for the offensive side of the ball.
Individually, Cameron Smith actually totaled 279 yards on 34 carries and two touchdowns while Doty picked up 64 yards on 17 carries and two scores. Erico Smith added 49 yards on 14 carries.
On defense, Shawn Berger led the way with 11 tackles, Steven Ashley had eight, Mitchell guzman had seven and a key pass deflection and fumble recovery. William Robertson had seven tackles and Braynt Fowler had two tackles and an interception.
The win improves the Bears to 3-5 on the year with Louisville Atherton coming to Taylorsville Friday night for the final regular season home game. The Bears will close out the regular season on the road at Washington County, and then will host Louisville Shawnee in the opening round of the playoffs.