The Wayne County Cardinals met Taylor County last Friday night at Jewell

Field in an important district matchup for both teams. Wayne County entered

with a 3-2 overall mark and 2-1 district tally and was coming off a 20-17

win at Russell County. Taylor County owned a 2-4 record and 1-2 league mark.

The contest marked the 11th meeting between the two schools, but first since

Wayne County claimed a 20-19 double-overtime home decision in 2002.

Senior quarterback Jordan Steele completed 6 of 13 passes for 188 yards

and 3 touchdowns, while runningback D.J. Hall rushed 12 times for 98 yards

and added the go-ahead touchdown on a 21 yard run, as Wayne County claimed a

28-21 win. The Cards totaled 330 yards of offense and 10 first downs, en

route to clinching a playoff berth while improving to 4-2 on the season.

"This was another good hard-fought win for our football team and once

again we found a way to battle back and take the lead in the fourth quarter.

I'm so proud of the way our kids played hard and never quit. We didn't put

four complete quarters together, but we did enough good things to get the

win. Give a lot of credit to Taylor County, we knew they had a very

dangerous football team and I think we faced one of their best efforts of

the season," said Wayne County head coach Shawn Thompson.

Taylor County dropped to 2-5, despite totaling 362 yards of offense and

13 first downs. Senior All-State candidate Chris Thomas rushed 29 times for

a game high 208 yards, but the Redbirds were plagued by 3 costly turnovers.

"This was a real good football game for the fans to watch. I thought

both teams played hard and I was proud of the way our guys battled back from

2 touchdowns down to take the lead. We did enough good things to win the

game, but we also made some mistakes that proved to be costly," said Taylor

coach Rod Turpin.

Wayne County had several solid performances, other than the big nights

of Steele and Hall. The Cards receiving Corps had another good night as

Dustin Denney grabbed 2 catches for 79 yards, which included a 68 yard score

and senior Dusty Thompson made 2 receptions of 18 and 32 yards, both for

touchdowns. Thompson also had an outstanding effort in the punting game with

4 punts for a season best 170 yards.

"To be successful in high school football, you have to pass the football

and I think our passing game has been a big key in our last two wins. Dustin

and Dusty both made some big-time plays, but I thought all of our receivers

had solid nights. We had a good week of practice with the receivers and I

think that carried over, plus Dusty did a good job of punting the football,

which gave us good field-position," said Thompson.

The local Cards opened the game with the football and used 9-plays to

move the ball inside the Taylor 10 yard line. Jordan Steele completed a 47

yard pass to Eric Rhule on the march, but a costly holding penalty and a

quarterback-sack stalled the drive.

Taylor County answered with a 7-play, 74 yard scoring march, capped-off

by a Lance Turpin 3 yard touchdown pass to Taylor Cox. Chris Thomas provided

the key play of the series with a 72 yard run and the extra-point pushed the

score to 7-0, with 5:01 left in the first period.

The Redbirds had a chance to add to their lead later in the quarter.

Lance Turpin completed a 65 yard pass to Taylor Cox, as Dustin Denney made a

game-changing tackle on the Wayne County 5 yardline. The tackle proved huge,

as Taylor County stalled and missed a 33 yard field goal attempt.

"We get beat on the big play, but give a lot of credit to Dustin Denney

for never giving up on the play. That tackle saved a touchdown and gave us

some needed momentum," said Thompson.

Wayne County responded with a big play of their own, as Jordan Steele

connected with Dustin Denney on a 68 yard touchdown pass. The score ended a

4-play, 80 yard drive, as the Cards missed the extra-point, leaving the

score 7-6 with 11:25 left in the first half.

The home Cards claimed their first lead of the night on their next

possession, as the hosts rolled 62 yards, on 7 plays and scored on a Jordan

Steele 18 yard pass to Dusty Thompson. The conversion pass failed, giving

Wayne County a 12-7 advantage with 5:16 left in the second quarter.

A Taylor County fumble and Tyler Pace recovery setup the Cards' next

score, from the visitors 24 yard line. Wayne County battled through a couple

of negative plays, as Steele found Thompson again, this time from 32 yards

out on 4th down, as the hosts pushed to an 18.7 lead. D.J. Hall added the

conversion run, to push the score to 20-7, with 1:52 left in the opening

half.

Neither team would threaten again, as the score remained 20-7 at

intermission.

"We played very well in the second quarter. We scored three times and

forced a big turnover, so going into the locker room we had confidence and

momentum. Give Taylor County credit they answered right back in the third

quarter and never quit. I'm not sure why, we just looked flat after

halftime," said Thompson.

Taylor County opened the third quarter with the ball and stayed on the

ground all 9-plays, traveled 55 yards and scored on a Lance Turpin 4 yard

run. The kick failed, leaving the score 20-14 with 7:23 left in the stanza.

After the local Cards failed to muster a first down on the following

series, the visiting Redbirds reclaimed the lead. Taylor County used Chris

Thomas runs of 5, 38 and 20 yards to march 73 yards and score on a Lance

Turpin 13 yard pass to Taylor Cox.

The Redbirds made the most of a Wayne County off sides penalty on the

conversion attempt and opted to go for 2-points and scored on the run to

grab a 21-20 lead, with 2:45 left in the third period.

Both teams struggled throughout the next four series as Wayne County

punted two times and Taylor County punted and had a pass intercepted.

Wayne County used the legs of D.J. Hall and Jordan Steele to setup the

go-ahead score. Hall opened the march with a 28 yard run, Steele followed

that with an 11 yard scamper and Hall put the Cards ahead for good with a 21

yard touchdown run. The talented sophomore added the conversion run, as

Wayne County owned a 28-21 lead with 5:13 left in the game.

"D.J. ran hard all night and I really thought that last drive our guys

were on a mission. D.J. and Jordan made big runs and our line blocked really

well. The conversion also was another big play, which pushed the lead back

to seven points," said Thompson.

Taylor County refused to go-away and used 11-plays to march inside the

Wayne County 20 yard line, with under a minute to play, but junior

linebacker Chris Burks sealed the win with an interception of a Lance Turpin

pass. Burks returned the pick 18 yards, as Wayne County took a knee to

run-out the clock and claim the 28-21 win.

"Another big stop by our defense to get the win. This is two weeks in a

row we've intercepted passes to seal the deal. Chris made a big play, so

give our defense a lot of credit they gave up some yards, but made some

clutch plays. We had to dig deep late, with our numbers we can't afford to

lose many people and we did lose some guys with cramps, so I was proud of

the way everybody that stepped in made good things happen," said Thompson.

The win improved Wayne County to 8-3 all-time against Taylor County and

marked the fifth time in six games that the outcome has been a touchdown or

less.

"We just can't get a win over here. The time we lost in double-overtime,

we just can't get over the hump. Wayne County has a very nice football

team and it all starts with Hall and Steele. They are both good football

players and I thought both teams played extremely hard," said Taylor's

Turpin.

Michael Garner led all Cards with 14 total tackles, while Chris Burks,

Eric Rhule and Kyle Bell finished with 13, 12 and 11 total stops each. The

defensive unit forced 3 turnovers, tallied 4 sacks and added 2 tackles for

loss.

"We don't talk a lot about some of our defensive guys, but that side of

the ball deserves a lot of credit. We have a lot of inexperienced guys that

have stepped in and made plays, so that's a real positive. We continue to

learn and grow as a team each and every week," said Thompson.

Up next for the Cards is a Friday night road trip to highly ranked and

undefeated Pulaski County. The Maroons are 6-0 and own wins over the likes

of Somerset, South Laurel and Mercer County, plus are coming off an

impressive 41-15 win over Southwestern.

"Pulaski County is the best all-around team we've faced this season.

They have great speed in Chris Muse and Winston Hines, those guys make big

plays on both sides of the ball. I have a lot of respect for Coach Hines and

the job he's done at Pulaski County. They had a couple of rebuilding years,

but are back where they were the last time we played. Dangerous with a lot

of offensive weapons," said Thompson.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Pulaski County's Maroon

Field. For more details on the game see related story inside this edition of

the Outlook.



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