Coming into Friday night’s game versus South Laurel, the Southwestern Warriors hadn’t scored a single point in the first quarter through their first five games of the 2020 season.
That all changed on Friday evening at the Reservation, as the Warriors ran out to a 20-0 first-quarter lead en route to a 52-14 victory over the visiting South Laurel Cardinals.
Jason Foley’s boys never looked back after jumping out to an early double-digit lead over the Cardinals, allowing them to move to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in Class 5A District 8 play. The win was also Southwestern’s 14th in a row over South Laurel.
The second-year Warrior head coach was pleased to see his team get on the scoreboard early and often in the contest, which was something they had not done so far in 2020.
“I’m proud of the way we started the game tonight,” began Foley. “I thought we came out with a lot of enthusiasm. I’ve been challenging our guys to do that in the first quarter, and that was one of the best first quarters that we’ve had all year.”
Southwestern took a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game on a 38-yard touchdown connection from Chanler Crabtree to Connor Crisp. Before the end of the frame, Tanner Wright tallied touchdown runs of 21 yards and 27 yards to give Southwestern a 20-0 advantage over the Cardinals.
After South Laurel cut the Southwestern lead to 20-8 on a 70-yard run from Traeton Napier in the early portion of the second period, the Warriors responded with two scores in less than 22 seconds to grab a 32-8 advantage. Crabtree threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Kaden Hewitt before finding Ian Ware for a 24-yard touchdown connection.
With 1:08 left until halftime, the Warriors scored once again, grabbing a 38-8 lead over South Laurel. Crabtree, this time, threw a bullet to Maison Hibbard, who got his feet down inches away from the out-of-bounds line for an 18-yard touchdown pass.
The running clock would go into effect in the third quarter after a 43-yard touchdown run from Giddeon Brainard and an 18-yard touchdown pass from Crabtree to Alex Farler. With those two scores, Southwestern found themselves out front by a margin of 52-8.
South Laurel, with 7:42 remaining in the contest, scored on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Mitchell to Nicholas Hays. With the score, the Cardinals trailed Southwestern, 52-8.
The Cardinals, without their leading passer and rusher in quarterback Dylan Burdine under center in this one, struggled to get things going offensively. In his absence, South Laurel finished with 42 passing yards and 195 rushing yards for 237 total yards of offense.
Napier was a bright spot for South Laurel, toting the ball 17 times for 143 yards and a lone score. Mitchell came off the bench to throw for 42 yards and one touchdown on a pair of completions for the Cardinals.
Southwestern, meanwhile, had their biggest passing game of the entire season, racking up 177 yards through the air. The Warriors also rushed for 271 yards on the ground, allowing them to finish with 448 yards of offense.
Crabtree had a stellar night in his second start of the year at quarterback, throwing for five touchdowns to five different receivers (Crisp, Hewitt, Hibbard, Farler, and Ian Ware). Through the air, Crabtree was 12 of 14 for 177 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions.
“I think Crabtree, with his second true start, is making progress,” Foley praised. “We’ve still got to correct a few things, but I thought he made some good plays tonight. We had a lot of receivers making plays, and I was proud of them for that.”
Despite having a 40-yard score and a 50-yard touchdown wiped off the board due to penalties, Wright had nine carries for 128 yards and two scores. Brainard chimed in with 92 yards and a touchdown on just three carries.
Foley was thrilled to see a big offensive night from so many different players, both on the ground and through the air. The Warriors tallied a season-high 52 points in the 38-point win over the Cardinals.
“I was happy to see a lot of different guys be involved tonight,” told the second-year Warrior football coach. “We know we’ve got a lot of playmakers, but we’re still trying to spread the ball out and get it to as many players as we can.”
The top seed for the district playoff seeding will be up for grabs next week when the Warriors will host crosstown rival Pulaski County at the Reservation. The Maroons are 5-1 overall and 3-0 in district play.
“It’s been a battle for years, and both teams have had some good teams over the years,” Foley concluded. “We know it’s a big challenge, so we must prepare and be focused. We’ve got to stay humble and stay hungry, and hopefully out guys can do that.”
The Cardinals fell to 0-6 overall and 0-3 in district play with the loss. South Laurel will look to grab their first district win of the year at Whitley County.
Follow Michael Childers on Twitter — @MChilders_22
SL -- 0 8 0 6 -- 14
SW -- 20 18 14 0 -- 52
RUSHING: (SL) Napier 17 -- 143 TD, Willoughby 15 -- 42, Mitchell 2 -- 10. (SW) Wright 9 -- 128 2 TD, Brainard 3 -- 92 TD, Walden 3 -- 32, Flynn 1 -- 9, Crisp 1 -- 5, Nelson 1 -- 5, Crabtree 1 -- 0.
PASSING: (SL) Mitchell 2/4 42 TD, Napier 0/5 0. (SW) Crabtree 12/14 177 5 TD 2 INT.
RECEIVING: (SL) Hays 1 -- 38 TD, Dugger 1 -- 4. (SW) Hibbard 3 -- 41 TD, Crisp 2 -- 38 TD, Ian Ware 3 -- 38 TD, Farler 2 -- 35 TD, Hewitt 2 -- 25 TD.