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Spencer County’s Cameron Smith stretched for all he could, but his game-ending rushing attempt ended just short of the goal-line, preserving a 42-39 victory for Elizabethtown Friday night at Central Hardin High School.
Playing the second game of a double-header, the Bears and Panthers didn’t get underway until 9:15 p.m., but both teams took turns lighting up the scoreboard.
Elizabethtown struck first, scoring on a time-consuming drive in the first quarter and then converting a two-point conversion. Spencer County’s defense, which struggled last week against East Jessamine, actually looked good on the first drive, and for that matter, during the entire first half.
Spencer County’s first possession resulted in the Bears driving down the field, but their drive stalled near the Panther goal-line and a fourth-down attempt for a touchdown failed.
The Bear’s defense held, forcing a punt. A few plays later, Cameron Smith took a hand-off, eluded several tacklers and got into the end zone. Spencer County’s two-point conversion attempt failed, but the game was tight at 8-6 early in the second quarter.
Elizabethtown answered however, putting together another impressive drive and scoring on a short run. This time, the two-point conversion failed, and it was 14-6 with just over six minutes remaining in the half.
Spencer County then erupted for 20 straight points. Facing a 3rd and five at their own 42, quarterback Erico Smith scrambled out of the pocket and spotted a wide open Steven Ashley downfield. He launched the pass and Ashley took it in untouched. Tyler Calvert provided the extra point and the Bears were down 14-13 with 4:31 left.
The Bears defense stiffened up on E-Town’s next possession. Logan Dunbar recorded a sack, forcing the Panthers to punt. Cameron Smith took the kick on his own 25 yard line, found a gap and shot up the sideline. It appeared he may be stopped at the 20-yard line of E-town, but made a nifty cutback and waltzed into the end zone. Calvert’s kick was good, giving Spencer County their first lead of the game at 20-14 with just over three minutes left in the half.
Elizabethtown was facing a 4th and 1 near midfield, when a fumble was recovered by the Bears’ Michael Wessels, setting up the Bears with about 90 seconds left on the clock. Set up by a Cameron Smith 36-yeard run, the Bears were able to convert when Erico followed a lineman up and over the goal line for the final score of the half. Another attempt at a two-point conversion failed, but the Bears held the lead at 26-14.
In the second half, the Panthers came out and scored on a 19-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 26-20. With three minutes left in the quarter, the Panthers would score again on a screen pass and convert the two-point attempt to retake the lead at 28-26.
However, Spencer County answered with a score of their own when Erico Smith hooked up again with Ashley on a 19-yard pass play for the receiver’s second touchdown of the night. Calvert’s kick was good and the Bears retook a 33-28 lead just before the start of the final period.
The fourth quarter began with Etown starting another scoring drive that ended on a six-yard run up the middle for a score and a successful two-point try, giving the home team a 36-33 lead.
The Bears took their next possession, and behind the running of Kevin Hume and Brian Harris, began moving the ball past midfield. Hume and Harris got the bulk of the carries early in this drive because Cameron Smith had been shaken up three separate times in the previous two series and was being treated on the sidelines.
Smith returned to pick up a big 14-yard gain, and Hume rumbled for seven tough yards that set up Spencer County’s go-ahead touchdown with Erico Smith scored on a quarterback keeper up the middle. Calvert’s kick was a little wide left, but the Bears held to a 39-36 lead with just over six minutes left.
E-Town took the kickoff and broke free, with Calvert making a score-saving tackle at the 2 yard line. However, the Panthers didn’t take long to punch it in and retake the lead 42-39 with just under five minutes remaining.
Spencer County was able to eat up the clock and the yardage on their final drive, eventually making it inside the 10-yard-line for a first and goal at the 8-yard line. Three plays later and with the clock under 20 seconds, the Bears were faced with a fourth and goal from just outside the five. Instead of attempting the tying field goal, the decision on the sideline was made to go for the win. Smith took the handoff and tried to find a way to the endzone, but was forced out of bounds just shy.
On the night, Camerson Smith rushed 20 times for 175 yards, and with together with his return yards, had 309 total yards.
Hume rushed 18 times for 69 yards, Harris had four carries for 19 yards and Erico Smith ran 15 times for 59 yards and two TDs. Erico Smith was also a perfect three for three passing, for 84 yards and two touchdowns.
On the defensive side, Brian Harris led the way with five solo tackles while David Cross had four.