Darren Doyle, story and photos
Whether you call them Cougars, Grayson County, Swampies, or just "those other guys," if you're a Wildcat fan, it's one of the biggest games of the year. It's the annual "Tobacco Stick Bowl," the name of the Edmonson County/Grayson County football game, which has been a tradition for years. The trophy of which is an old fashioned tobacco stick painted in the colors of the winning team. After the Wildcats' 42-6 romping of the Cougars last night, the stick will remain blue and red, and in the hands of the Wildcats for the second straight year.
The Wildcats got off to a rough start as they watched the Cougars control the entire first quarter and finding themselves in a 6-0 hole. After Wildcat fans anxiously watched the scoreboard in the first, they started to get their money's worth in the first play of the second quarter as Daniel Caudill scored on a turbo-fueled 34 yard touchdown run. Brett Brannon's extra point gave the Cats the 7-6 lead and from there they never looked back.
The team also faced extra emotion on top of the heated rivalry as Caudill and his family dealt with the loss of his grandfather earlier in the week.
"Obviously, my mind was on other things and I didn't get to settle down and focus like I usually do before game," Caudill said. "But when the game started, I knew the team needed me to step up so I started to get more and more zoned-in as the game went on."
'Zoned-in' is not a bad phrase, but it would be better described as "End-zoned-in" as Caudill finished the night with four touchdowns and 270 total yards, none bigger than a 95 yard run that he actually fumbled near the Wildcats' own end zone, but was able to recover and explode past the Grayson County defense for a TD.
With 5:46 left in the first half, Sr. wide receiver Rheece Berkley caught an 18 yard pass from Tucker Cole to extend the lead to 14-6 with the help of Brannon's extra point.
Caudill did it again on a 64 yard screen pass from Cole for another touchdown, and Brannon's extra point made it 21-6 with just over a minute before halftime. The score would remain the same as the teams headed for the locker room at the break.
The Wildcats kept control of the third quarter as the Edmonson County defense kept the Cougars at bay and the score remained the same.
Two minutes into the 4th, Caudill recovered a bobbled ball and blasted his way 95 yards down field for another touchdown. Brannon's extra point extended the lead to 28-6.
Caudill said the long runs he had were credited to the Wildcat offensive line and blocking from wide receivers.
"Once I was past them, my mentality was to finish the runs in the end zone," he said. "I just let instincts and athleticism take over from there."
And his finishing in the end zone continued two minutes later as he scored his fourth touchdown of the night on a 67 yard run. Brannon's extra point (who was a perfect 6 for 6 on the night) made it 35-6.
The Wildcats scored once more with 1:53 left in the game on Kenny Logsdon's 27 touchdown run. Brannon's extra point extended the lead to 42-6, which was the game's final score.
"Winning the stick is all some people want us to do all year," Caudill said. "If we beat Grayson and lose every other game, people will say we had a great year. Being a senior, I knew I couldn't let the stick go back to Leitchfield and the team knew how big of a deal it was to keep it in Brownsville, so we took care of business from there."
Coach Smith said he was happy with the outcome, with the exception of the first quarter. He noted Caudill's big night, but also credited Brett Brannon for exceptional defense, key tackles, and a great kicking night.
'Brett had some great kicks and he was everywhere tonight on defense. He had a really good night. And what can you say about Caudill? Even (as a coach) when you call something stupid, he makes you look smart. I mean, he fumbles a football in the end zone and goes 95 (yards) for a touchdown. He's just a heck of a football player."
Smith also discussed Caudill's ability to overcome personal adversity and fill his role as a senior and team leader.
"Not very many players could do what he did after the week he's had. He was in the field house earlier and I could tell he was down and you expect that. I'd be worried if he wasn't down. I was a little worried about him anyway, but he was able to put all that aside and he got a win against Grayson County."
Smith discussed next week's game vs. Warren East, which will be played at WKU's Houchens L.T. Smith Stadium.
"I think they're going to be fast," he said of East. "They've got some really good athletes and it's going to be on a big stage. It's going to be different for us, but different for them. Playing on turf, you never know how people are going to play."
He said East has the skill to make the Wildcats pay if his team doesn't show up with proper fundamentals, but he's optimistic about the match up.
Game time is at 7pm. You can listen to the game live with Scott and Bryan on WildcatsLive beginning at 6:45pm.