Typically, Henry County uses a pass-happy offense that picks opponents apart, but it was the Wildcats’ ground attack that pushed them past Carroll County in a 47-14 victory Friday night.
The visiting Wildcats continued to move the chains all night with quarterback Luke Magness and running backs Cody Miracle and Jaccori Baldwin pushing the ball up field. They finished with a season-high 369 yards from the ground and improved to 6-2 on the season. According to the newest Litkenhous Ratings, which were released earlier this week, Henry is No. 3 in Class 3-A behind No. 1 Central and No. 2 Breathitt County. The Carroll win was just what the Cats needed with Spencer County and Scott remaining on their schedule before the postseason gets rolling.
“I think Carroll has a good team, our players just came out and played hard,” Henry coach Chris Engstrand said afterwards. “We weren’t tight, and that made all the difference for us. If we come out loose and ready to play, we will see the H.C. team we are accustomed to. And that’s what we saw.”
Statistically, Henry had its best game all season from the ground. Magness led the charge with 14 carries for 137 yards, which made him a double threat all night with his 10-of-20 passing for 117 yards. Also, Miracle took 14 handoffs for 121 yards, Baldwin took 10 handoffs for 62 yards, Mahoney took two handoffs for 17 yards, John Allgeier took three handoffs for 12 yards, Conner Johnson ran the ball four times for 11 yards and Lance Timberlake ran the ball one time for 10 yards.
“If it’s working, we’re not going to stop until you stop us,” Engstrand said of his decision to run the ball 49 times. “We didn’t want to over-think ourselves. I attribute our running to our big men up front. It doesn’t matter how good your backs are if you don’t have those linemen. Those guys got the job done.”
The run-heavy offense was swayed by the strong play from Baldwin, who transfered to HCHS last year and joined the football squad this fall. He has slowly worked his way into a key spot, which accumulated with his most productive game of the season against Carroll. It allowed Engstrand to run the Thunder Package for most of the game, which has a triple threat with the elusive Magness lined up behind center and Baldwin and Miracle in the backfield.
“Baldwin has looked better and better in practice, and he’s working much harder, so we decided to award him with more playing time,” Engstrand said. “For him, I think it was just a matter of getting used to our style of play. It finally clicked and he had a great game.”
At the receiving end, Baldwin had four catches for 69 yards, Trevor Raisor had two catches for 35 yards and Hayden Yancey had two catches for 7 yards. The Wildcats finished with 486 yards on 69 plays, which allowed them to move the chains for 26 first downs.
Meanwhile, Carroll accumulated 196 yards with 74 rushing and 122 passing, and had just 12 first downs. Steven Tillett recovered one Carroll fumble, while Matt Long and Taylor Callis had one interception apiece.
The Wildcats moved the ball from the start, but couldn’t find the elusive end zone during the first quarter — thanks to two fumbles and one interception. Both teams were held scoreless for the first 12 minutes of play.
But the Wildcats scored 28 points in the second quarter to open up the contest, then added six points in the third and 13 in the fourth en route to the 47-14 victory. Meanwhile, the Panthers scored seven points in each the third and fourth quarters.
During the lopsided second quarter, the Wildcats managed to reach the end zone four times to break open the contest. Miracle scored on a 18-yard carry with 11:13 left on the clock; Baldwin scored on a 18-yard carry with 10:52 left; Magness scored on another 18-yard carry with 2:25 left; and Matt Long intercepted a Carroll pass and scored on a 50-yard return with just 1:29 left. Patrick Mahoney was good on all four extra-point kicks to give the Cats a 28-0 lead at the half.
The Panthers scored their first touchdown on a 10-yard pass play from Casey Cable to Cody Boles midway through the third quarter before Henry started to stretch its lead once again. Miracle scored on a 42-yard run during the third quarter, while Luke Magness connected with Baldwin on a 14-yard touchdown play in the first play of the fourth quarter to put the Cats comfortably ahead 40-7.
The Panthers scored their final touchdown with 8:09 remaining in the final quarter on another pass play from Cable to Boles — this time 25 yards — and the Wildcats scored their final touchdown with 2:59 remaining on a Baldwin 8-yard carry. Mahoney was once again good on the kick to put the Cats in front, 47-14.
After the 6-2 start, the Wildcats will host Spencer County this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. They will close out the regular season against Scott on Nov. 7 with the postseason starting Nov. 14.
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