Story and photos by Joseph Barkoff:
Edmonson County football traveled an hour or so to Albany to face Class 2A rival Clinton County Friday, September 23rd. The ride back home to Edmonson may have been smoother with less traffic, but it was no less rough after a 26-6 road loss, again, for the Wildcats.
On Clinton's post game broadcast it was overheard, after a career-long running of a 4-4 defense, it was altered special for the Cats. Knowing the Cats are one breakaway from scoring, and even winning, the Bulldogs came out in a “6-2 defense for the first time ever.”
What does this mean?
In layman terms, a 4-4 defense has four down lineman, four linebackers, and three defensive backs. Instead of calling a defensive play with what are called sometimes called “stunts” for blitzing a quarterback, where a middle backer will set up down on the line, Clinton County dropped six in the trenches with two backers and three defensive backs.
This can be a problem when a team relies heavily upon one look.
He is a workhorse, and despite being banged up in the previous week’s game, and leaving in the third quarter not to return, he was ready to play against Clinton County.
The Wildcats took the ball first on the evening, and the first play from scrimmage against the Wildcats, the Bulldogs showed rushing six.
Wildcats went three and out, but prevented the pass-heavy Bulldogs from converting on fourth down for a turnover on downs.
From the Bulldogs’ 29-yard line, the Wildcats came out with senior quarterback Noah Meredith in shotgun formation, four receivers, and Mills in the backfield. Mills went in motion to the right, leaving Meredith with five linemen against the Bulldogs’ incoming six.
Meredith snapped the ball, rolled to his right and under pressure, tossed a strike to senior wide receiver Alex Elkins right on the sideline of the 43-yard line.
Mills got the ball next and found room to bounce outside and through pressure, to carry would-be tacklers along for a 12-yard run.
The Wildcats didn’t run out of steam, but they seemed to have trouble adjusting to the consistent onslaught of six defensive lineman.
Though the first quarter ended with neither team on the scoreboard, on the first play of the second, from the Wildcats 22-yard line, Clinton County sophomore quarterback Jaxson Mason threw a strike to the end zone in step with receiver Kasyn Massengale. The Bulldogs did not convert a two-point attempt and the score was 6-0.
The Wildcats started with good position after a nice return from junior running back Carter Swihart. When the Cats looked like they were grasping at ends to go for it on fourth-down and eight on the 50-yard line, those were claws.
Meredith sailed the ball with a defender in his chest and Elkins had presence to pay attention and was able to come back and make a shoelaces catch, just above the thick grass as he fell forward for 15 yards and the first down.
The Wildcats continued to pound the ball forward, while being equally pounded against six rushers. Another way to think of it, is the defense was always blitzing two extra folks.
In the red zone, on the 15-yard line, it was fourth and four. The Wildcats went for it but did not convert and Clinton County took over on downs.
Edmonson County defense held strong and Clinton County punted from with the line of scrimmage still on the 15.
Meredith made two passing attempts to start the drive. On the third he was intercepted and the Wildcats would turn over the ball on their own 45-yard line with 3:15 left in the first half.
Clinton County drove to the 13-yard line, but could not convert on fourth down and six.
The Wildcats would get the ball back again, now with 1:05 left in the half only down 6.
Then the unthinkable happened with 2 seconds left. Clinton County rushed only three and the Edmonson County offensive line all missed their assignments. Meredith took the snap from shotgun and was instantly in trouble and sacked for a loss to tend the half.
Clinton County started the second half with the ball and drove down and scored with 8:40 still to go in the third quarter. With a successful 2-point conversion the score was now 12-0 for the Bulldogs.
The Wildcats turned around and drove for a little bit longer off the clock than Clinton County, and down to the four-yard line, on fourth and four, they could not convert.
With 6:10 left in the third, Clinton County took over on their own 4-yard line.
They punted and Edmonson County took over on their own 45-yard line with still 3:59 left in the quarter. On another fourth down, on their own 45-yard line, Edmonson was unable to convert and turned the ball back over to Clinton County.
The fourth quarter began with Edmonson County down 12-0 with Clinton County first and 10 from the Edmonson County 14-yard line. Two minutes, 10 seconds, and 14 yards later Clinton County scored for a third time.
After another failed two-point conversion from Clinton County, the score was 20-0 in favor of Clinton County over Edmonson County with 8:39 left on the game clock.
Edmonson drove for almost five minutes and finally punched in the ball for 6 points with around 3:45 to go. Their two-point attempt failed but there was now only a two-score gap. A two-touchdown with at least one two-point conversion to tie, two-score gap. Surmountable, but facing a six man front all evening took a toll for Edmonson County, again because, most of their players are ironmen. Playing both offense and defense.
Clinton County, on their last drive of the game, was able to score again with :38.9 seconds left to go.
Edmonson County prevented another two-point attempt from Clinton County and the score was 26-6 in favor of Clinton.
Edmonson took the ball, made a first down, but with 17 seconds left and no longer any way to win, and the general wear from being a warrior of the gridiron.
After the game Edmonson County head coach Zach Vincent spoke to his team near one end zone.
“The one positive thing from the evening,” he said. “You guys did not retaliate.”
There were late hits, roughing the pass and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties called on Clinton County, to name a couple. Perhaps there was even room for more.
The defense played well, all the coaches said after the game.
Edmonson County was scheduled to face Fort Campbell on the road, originally next week on Friday Sept. 29 at 7 p.m., but there have been recent schedule adjustments which have not yet been finalized. The Edmonson Voice will have updates as they become available.
The Wildcats are now 1-5 on the season.