Panthers win Clash 23-14, now rated first in state
By Jim Turner

Posted on October 17, 2021 7:41 PM

Host Russellville scored 13 points in the first seven minutes of the game Friday, played solid defense throughout the contest, and put together a clock-killing scoring drive on the way to a 23-14 win over Logan County in the annual Clash of the Cats at Rhea Stadium.

With the win over the highly ranked Class 4A Cougars, the 7-1 Panthers have moved into the number one spot in the state in the KHSAA’s RPI Class 1A ratings, despite a 49-0 win by previous number one Pikeville. The 6-2 Cougars’ RPI fell only about half a point and now they are rated fifth in the state in Class 4A instead of fourth.

The two touchdowns producing those 13 points against Logan came just 56 second apart.

It was exactly three quarters—36 minutes—later before the Panthers scored another touchdown.

In between, RHS kicked a field goal and made the Cougars work hard for their 14 points. Super defender Chevis Elliott played a huge role in that by intercepting two of Davin Yates’ passes and coming back from a shoulder injury to block a talented kicker’s chip shot field goal attempt.

Four plays before anybody scored provided previews of what was to come:

1)     Logan took the opening kickoff. After appearing to go three-and-out, RHS linebacker Lennon Ries was offside on the Cougar punt. That changed it to a fourth and two and Cougar Coach Todd Adler decided to go for the first down, even though the ball was on his team’s own 34. RHS Coach Mike Benton later both radio and print reporters that as well as his team played in this win, they still made too many penalties that could cost them a playoff win if they continue that rules-breaking trend.

2)     On that fourth and two after Ries’ penalty, Yates broke two tackles, refusing to go down before getting the first down. Admittedly Yates made some mistakes in this game, but his determination and football savvy helped him record play-after-play successes to keep the Cougars competitive.

3)     On the ensuing first down, the Cougars’ top running back, junior Ryan Rayno, was injured after he picked up seven yards. When Jaquis Todd sent him flying on the tackle, Rayno landed hard on his back on the concrete near the playing surface. He never was able to return to the game. The Panthers had their ball-control specialist in Javori Gamble, and the Cougars were without theirs in Rayno.

4)     On the first play of Logan’s second possession, one of the Cougars’ most dependable players, senior Wyatt Blake, fumbled the ball way at his own 20, ending the drive. Ben Allen and Zach Dowlen contributed to the fumble recovery for RHS. That was the first of three key turnovers by the Cougars plus the blocked kick.

The Cougars’ first drive ended when talented Cougar kicker Mattia Glubilato came up a little short on a 54-yard field goal attempt. It was as good or better than a punt, since the Panthers took possession at their 20.

The Panthers, however, scored two plays later on a 75-yard pass and run from Ries to Rooster Woodard. Brown’s extra point was good, and Russellville led 7-0 with 5:42 remaining in the first quarter.

Blake’s fumble came on the Cougars’ first play after the Panther score. Todd ran for eight yards on first down, and then Gamble used his powerful legs to run for a 23-yard touchdown. Although Brown suffered a rare miss on the conversion kick, the home team led 13-0 less than a minute after scoring their first point.

The Panthers looked like they were going to score again in the second quarter. On a fourth and 12, Ries threw what looked like it would become a touchdown, but the ever-present Yates broke it up to get the ball back for the Cougars.

The Cougars’ first touchdown came on two straight completions between quarterback Yates and slotback Blake for 25 and 12 yards, followed by Yates’ 3-yard rush for a touchdown. Yates carried the ball in for a two-point conversion. The Panther lead was down to 13-8 with 2:37 left in the half.

Russellville recorded one yard short of triple figures in Total Offense margin over its guest in the first half (207-108), much of it coming on that Ries-to-Woodard 75-yard TD pass.

The second half began positively for the Cougars with Glubilato catching his own onside kick to steal possession for his team. It didn’t stay that way for long with Elliott intercepting another Yates pass.

The second half is usually JGT (Jovari Gamble Time). This one was no exception. The senior workhorse got off a long run before Cougar Elijah Hopkins got him down at the Cougar 19.

The drive stalled, but Brown kicked an important 31-yard field goal with 4:45 remaining in the third quarter to expand the Panther lead to eight at 16-8.

Logan’s next possession included Yates’ 17-yard run when 18 were needed, but Blake picked up the first down on the next carry.

The drive stalled, and on the second play of the fourth quarter Glubilato attempted a 29-yard field goal. Elliott, who wouldn’t stay sidelined long with a shoulder injury, blocked the kick. It was one of the most important defensive plays of the game.

The Panthers then went on a drive that ate up most of the remaining time and also padded their lead. A key play was Ries’ 15-yard completion to Todd for a first down. Most of the rest of the plays involved Gamble bulling his way to first downs. He scored on an 11-yard run with 5:58 left in the game. Brown’s successful conversion kick made it 23-8. That 15th point in the margin was crucial.

Logan drove quickly toward the RHS goal line. Yates and/or Blake would be involved in every play with Yates scoring on a 1-yard run with 2:39 left. The Cougars were down by nine, which required two more scores. Coach Adler elected to go for two points on this conversion. It looked like it was going to happen, but Jaquis Todd made a huge stop that basically sealed the win.

Baptiste fielded Glubilato’s onside kick cleanly, Gamble ran for a first down, and the Panthers knew they had stopped the school’s four-game losing streak to the Cougars.

See the accompanying photos for player statistics.

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