The Wayne County Cardinals, 10-1 on the season and coming off a 43-0 opening round win over Louisville Valley, hosted rival Rockcastle County last Friday night at Jewell Field, in the Class 4A Region Three semifinals.  Wayne ended the season ranked #1 in Class 4A, while the Rockets were ranked #9 in 4A, 8-3 on the season and coming off a 30-22 win at Louisville Moore.  The contest marked the 27th meeting all-time between the two schools with Rockcastle owning a 17-9 series advantage, despite Wayne winning five of the last six meetings, including a 27-0 decision on September 29th, at Jewell Field.

    Wayne County used 43 plays of offense to net 336 yards with 12 first 
downs and the 5 total touchdowns of 6-1 205 lbs. senior Lorenzo 
Linsey to roll to a 38-24 home win.  The All-State candidate 
completed 13 of 19 passes for 204 yards with scoring strikes of 53, 
15 and 8 yards all to Aubrey Weaver, plus rushed 11 times for 81 
yards with touchdowns runs of 38 and 6 yards, as the Cards advanced 
to the region championship game for the third straight season.
    "Offensively we knew that our possessions could be limited if we 
didn't get stops, but our guys never panicked and Lorenzo made some 
great reads all night, which we've come to expect from him in big 
games.  He ran the ball very well, which opened things up and Aubrey 
made some big-time catches to finish off drives.  Defensively we 
struggled at times and some of that goes back to our practice on 
Wednesday, but we made some big stops and early in the second half. 
This gets back in the region championship game, so we're excited to 
still be playing football," said Cards head coach Shawn Thompson.
    Weaver, a 6-1 175 lbs. junior, added a game high 7 receptions for 
158 yards for a season best three scores, while Stetson Simpson added 
4 catches for 27 yards.  German Ruiz rushed 7 times for 39 yards, as 
the winners finished with just one turnover after 11 miscues the past 
three games.  Senior kicker Riley Woods nailed a 40-yard field goal, 
which improves his school record total to 10 on the season.  The win 
improves the Cards to 11-1 on the season sets up a Region Three 
championship matchup at Louisville Western.
    "Proud of our guys for winning with class and keeping our composure 
late, when it could've been easy to lose our heads.  We did a much 
better job with ball-security this week and that helped minimize the 
time of possession battle.  We certainly have work to do, but this is 
the grind of the postseason which as a player or coach you have to 
love it.  We just have to go back to work and keep our focus on a 
very good Western team," said Thompson.
    Rockcastle County, which dropped to 8-4 and had their season end at 
the hands of the Cardinals for the second time in three years, used 
64 plays to net 381 yards with 17 first downs.  The Rockets misfired 
on their only two pass attempts and used three different 100 yard 
rushers to make their second meeting of the season much closer.
    "We didn't swarm the football as well at times as we needed to, but 
Rockcastle has a very strong running game.  We had to battle their 
size in the trenches and we were arm tackling at times, but our 
defense has been lights-out the last half of the season.  We just 
have to go back to work and get ready for another excellent running 
attack in Western," said Thompson.
    Senior quarterback Brent Lovell rushed 17 times for 128 yards, 
junior running back Jaden Payne netted 22 attempts for 120 yards and 
senior fullback Holdan Barnett added 100 yards on 18 carries, which 
included a 3 yard scoring plunge.
    The Rockets opened the game with the football and used 11 plays to 
march 49 yards, but their first of two fumbles stalled the series at 
the Wayne 20 yard-line.
    The Cards wasted little time on their first possession and marched 
76 yards in just 3 plays and scored on a Lorenzo Linsey 53 yard 
touchdown pass to Aubrey Weaver.  The combo connected for 23 yards 
the previous play, as Riley Woods booted the extra point and made the 
score 7-0 with 5:52 left in the first period.
    Wayne County used a turnover on downs to setup the next score as 
Linsey and Weaver capped off an 11 play drive of 67 yards with a 15 
yard scoring connection.  The kick lifted the score to 14-0 with 9:21 
left in the first half.
    Rockcastle County would answer with their first score in six 
quarters against Wayne's defense as the squad marched 71 yards in 12 
plays and scored on a Holdan Barnett 3 yard run.  Brent Lovell 
completed the conversion pass to Jaden Payne, which made the score 
14-8 with 3:42 left in the second period.
    The Rockets had a chance to take the lead before the half, after a 
blocked punt, but a 7 play drive in the short-field was stopped at 
the Wayne 6 yard-line, which left the halftime score at 14-8.
    The Cards opened the second half with the football after a failed on-
side kick and Linsey scrambled for 13 yards, which setup a 38 yards 
touchdown run, to cap-off a 2 play drive.  The kick pushed the lead 
to 21-8 with 11:16 left in the third quarter.
    After the teams traded punts Wayne County added to their lead on a 
46 yard scoring drive, ended with a Linsey 8 yard touchdown pass to 
Aubrey Weaver.  The Woods kick made the score 28-9 with 4:04 left in 
the third period.
    Wayne was close to adding to their lead, but a turnover gave the 
Rockets momentum which resulted in a 9 play drive of 64 yards, capped 
off by an Isaiah Amyx fumble recovery in the end zone.  Josh Thacker 
added the conversion run to close the gap to 28-16 with 9:08 left in 
regulation.
    The teams traded empty possessions, before Linsey notched his fifth 
score of the night on a 6 yard run and the kick made the score 35-16 
with 5:44 left in the fourth quarter.
    Rockcastle managed one more score on the ensuing possession as a 
Brent Lovell keeper of 62 yards setup a Josh Thacker 23 yard 
touchdown run.  The Barnett conversion run, closed the gap to 35-24 
with 4:01 left in the contest.
    The Cards managed another score after an on-side attempt, as Riley 
Woods booted a 40 yard field goal with 1:08 remaining and neither 
team would threaten again as Wayne County claimed the 38-24 home win.
    A review of the defensive stats credits senior linebacker Clay 
Shelton with 15 stops, fellow linebacker Chris Dunagan added 12 
tackles, while senior defensive back Lane Turner registered a season 
high 11 tackles,  Kobe Brumley and Jonah Nieto added fumble 
recoveries and a total of 14 players tallied 3 stops or more in the 
game.
    Next up for Wayne County is a Friday night matchup at Louisville 
Western for the Region Three championship.  The Warriors are 8-4 on 
the season and are coming off an impressive 12-3 semifinals win over 
Knox Central.  Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday night and for 
complete details of the matchup see related story inside the edition 
of The Outlook.
 

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