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The Carroll County Panthers outscored the visiting Ludlow Panthers 21-0 in the third quarter to pull out a 27-18 victory.
“One of the ugliest wins we’ve had in a long time, but I’m not going to complain,” head coach Mike Weedman said.
Carroll (3-0) committed 12 penalties for 95 yards, including an interception returned for a touchdown by junior Tyshawn Embs that was called back because of a block in the back, compared to Ludlow’s (0-3) 7 for 35 yards. The home team also fumbled the ball four times in the first half, one by a ball carrier that was turned over to the visitors, and the other three on center-quarterback exchanges that were recovered but killed two drives.
However, it was the Ludlow Panthers who initially sputtered out of the gate, committing two false start penalties in their opening drive. They would recover by the end of it, converting on a fourth and one from the 25-yard-line. Senior Josh Martin scored on a 14-yard run, but the visitors failed on the extra point attempt after an illegal substitution penalty pushed back the kick.
On their opening drive, the Carroll Panthers took advantage of a short field and scored on a 10-yard run up the middle by Embs. There was a miscommunication between the coaches and the players as to whether or not to go for two and the attempt failed, tying the score at 6-6.
Ludlow doubled its lead 12-6 on another Martin rushing touchdown with 10:39 remaining in the second quarter. The two teams traded punts for the rest of the half, and the home team went into the locker room behind by a touchdown.
“I think the team got a little bit nervous at halftime,” Weedman said. “They didn’t want to lose, so they took it upon themselves to fix the mistakes of the first half.”
The Carroll Panthers opened the second half with a bang, as junior Dillon Craig returned the kickoff 43 yards to give his team fantastic field position. After a couple long runs, senior Carson Butcher capped off the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run, and the point after attempt was good by junior kicker Tim Corley, 13-12.
On Ludlow’s ensuing possession, Carroll slowed down and then halted their drive with a sack by senior Jared Eskew and an interception by senior Ben Newby with 6:07 to go in the third.
The Carroll Panthers took advantage of the turnover and scored another touchdown on a 31-yard-run by Embs and PAT by Corley.
After forcing two straight false start penalties and a three and out on the next possession, Ludlow punted to Carroll senior Evan Mefford, who returned the kick 66 yards for a touchdown, PAT by Newby.
Weedman pointed out that while Ludlow has not won a game yet this season, it is because they committed mistakes. “It’s not that the other teams were better than Ludlow, Ludlow beat themselves, and tonight in the first half, we were the ones making the mistakes instead of Ludlow,” Weedman said.
In order to cut down on the penalties and other mistakes against next week’s opponent, Kentucky Country Day, Weedman said his team needs to have “total focus from Monday through Friday. I don’t think that we do a very good job of focusing throughout the week, and that has to change, especially now that the ante is upping, game by game.”
Assistant coach and defensive coordinator JP Dale said he was “flabbergasted” with his team’s rush defense, “how we can shut down Lewis County’s running game and had Ludlow run all over us,” he said.
Ludlow rushed 47 times for 273 yards while Carroll finished the game with 347 rushing yards on 36 carries. Ludlow’s Martin rushed 21 times for 145 yards, while Carroll’s Embs scored two touchdowns and rushed eight times for 107 yards. Butcher rushed 17 times for 167 yards, while senior quarterback Trent Downs rushed five times for 18 yards; Craig twice for 51 yards; Mefford, once for three yards, and junior Brandon Franklin, once for one yard.
Dale said the team played four sophomores, and Ludlow found their youth every time. Dale said his team needs to hustle in order to beat KCD next week. “If KCD finds that one lazy kid, they are going to go after him.”
Weedman praised Embs for his play Friday night, saying he had earned the accolades and success. “I love the kid so much because he gives you everything he’s got day in and day out and he never complains,” he said. “I have never heard that boy complain, and he’s earned it. He’s earned it. He’s invested in himself, and I think you’re starting to see it pay off.”
The Carroll Panthers travel to KCD next week looking to avenge their 27-7 loss last season. In order to beat the Bearcats, Weedman said they have to be the aggressor.
“Last year, they were the aggressor, and we made some mistakes, but they took it to us. If we want to beat KCD, we need to be the aggressive team.”