Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
The Rowan County Vikings went home with a 21-23 win over West Carter on Saturday night. But it was the weather and inexperience that lost the game for the Comets, with cramps and dehydration causing player after player to drop – up to four or more at a time – and forcing Coach Daniel Barker to keep going to his bench late in a game where he was already playing catch up.
After a rough first quarter, that saw both teams lose yards over penalties, Rowan scored early in the second quarter with a touchdown and safety putting them up nine points over the Comets with 10:23 still left on the clock. The West Carter team struggled to bounce back, with Cole Crampton and Blake McGlone adding yardage for the Comets until Sam Jones scored the first touchdown for West, taking the score to 7-9 with 43 seconds left in the half after Eli Estepp’s successful kick for an extra point.
West Carter came out in the second half with a renewed sense of purpose. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to overcome muscle cramps and errors.
McGlone came out hard in the third quarter, taking the kickoff to Rowan County’s 35 yard line before picking up another ten or so yards of a pass for a first down. However, the Comets then lost yardage on a penalty. Crampton was able to bust through Rowan County’s line to advance, eventually advancing to a West Carter first down with 6:29 left in the quarter, even as his teammates succumbed to muscle cramps.
The Comets would get into scoring range again, but would have their pass intercepted in the endzone, setting up the Vikings for another touchdown, and ending the third quarter with a score of 7-15 after Crampton successfully blocked Rowan County’s attempted kick for an extra point.
Crampton would eventually fall to cramps himself, likely a result of dehydration and overexertion in the high heat and humidity, before recovering and returning to the game.
The Comets started recovering as a team in the fourth quarter as well, but it would prove to be too little, too late.
Crampton scored the second touchdown for West Carter early in the fourth quarter, taking the score to 13-15. After Neil Lusher connected on a 35 yard pass to put the Comets at first and goal, Jones scored again, putting the Comets ahead, 19-15. Timothy Fields’ two-point conversion put the score at 21-15 West.
But with just under three minutes left in the game, Rowan County scored again to tie things up, and then pulled ahead 21-23, on their own two-point conversion.
The Comets might have still had time to bounce back, but poor execution and errors allowed the Vikings to run out the clock on West Carter, taking home the win in this first outing for both teams.
Jones scored twelve points for the Comets on passes received, while Crampton scored six, also on a reception. Fields scored two points and Estepp one.
Crampton had the most reception yardage of the night, with 76 passing yards gained on three receptions. McGlone was second, with 37 yards on six receptions. Lusher gained 35 yards on one pass, and Jones 19 on two passes.
Crampton also led the team in rushing, with 59 yards on 23 attempts. Estepp had 11 yards on six attempts, and McGlone rushed for five yards on two attempts.
Estepp had 12 pass completions, on 24 attempts, and two interceptions, passing for a total of 167 yards and making three touchdown pass completions.
Crampton had one fumble recovery and Jones forced on defensive fumble.
In defense Conner Greene had three solo tackles and eight assists, for 11 total. He was matched at 11 by Jones, with four solo tackles and seven assists. Lusher had three solos and seven assists for ten tackles. Samuel Rayburn had six total; Gavin Adams, five; Timothy Fields, four; Raymond Rayburn and Brent King, three each; Crampton, Wilson, Bradyn Flener, McGlone, and Preston Nauman had two tackles each; and Landen Waggoner, Noah Orcutt, and Ethan Bledsoe had one tackle each.
Down in Mt. Sterling, East Carter faced off against Montgomery County in the Recreation Bowl for their first game of the season, bringing home the win with a score of 22- 20. Stats and breakdowns for that game were not yet available at press time.
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