It was a chance at redemption they would not waste.After losing in the Class 2A, Region 2 championship game at Elizabethtown last season 35-19, the Hounds took advantage of a rematch between the two teams at home Friday night and turned the tables on the Panthers 38-20, capturing their second region title in the last three seasons.
“They deserve the credit. Corbin did a heck of a job,” said Elizabethtown head coach Brett Burnett. “They won all phases of the game.”
Corbin’s bring-the-house blitz defense burned past Panther lineman from the outset, rushing star quarterback Chris Todd on nearly every passing play.
Two incomplete passes and a sack for a 12-yard loss in an ignomonious opening series for Elizabethtown proved a theme for the night. Todd, usually proficient in the Panther’s quick-strike, air-it-out offense completed only 16 of 37 pass attempts and was intercepted twice. Five of the team’s first eight plays were incomplete passes, either dropped by receivers or uncatchable.
“We knew we had to make Todd make some quick decisions,” Corbin coach Steve Jewell said of the team’s plan on defense. “When he has time to stand back there, he can pick you apart.”
Corbin scored on its second drive of the game, a nine-play, 53-yard affair kept alive by a crucial third-down-and-ten screen pass from freshman quarterback Clint Cashen to Eric Blackwood for a 16-yard gain. Three plays later, senior halfback Brad Lawson crashed into the endzone from a yard out to give the Hounds a 6-0 lead.
Lawson finished the game with three touchdowns and a total 190 yards rushing on 28 carries. Lawson, along with fellow running backs Josh Ware and Blackwood enabled Corbin to hog the ball, giving the hounds a lopsided 34:27 to 13:33 time of possession advantage.
Burnett said his team tried to counteract Corbin’s ground attack.
“We knew we had to play more people in the box and we came out (after halftime) and played seven or eight in the box, even nine at times to stop the run,” he said. “They were able to continue to run the football and run the clock and basically do whatever they wanted to do offensively.”
In quick fashion, the Panthers responded to Corbin’s first score with one of their own. Todd hooked up with senior wide receiver A.J. French on a 14-yard-toss down the sideline to give his team a short-lived 7-6 advantage.
Todd threw three incomplete passes near midfield at the end of the first quarter as Elizabethtown turned the ball over on down.
Cashen hooked up with Blackwood on a 51-yard pass over the middle of the Panther defense to set up Corbin second score of the game – a successful quarterback sneak from a yard out.
Blackwood caught seven passes for 122 receiving yards.
Blackwood intercepted Todd on Elizabethtown’s next possession. The Hounds didn’t take advantage, but did pin the Panthers back on their own two yard line on a nice punt by Lawson that sailed out of bounds.
Todd was sacked in the endzone by senior defensive end Sean Gosser for a safety – a play both coaches say was a turning point in the game.
Corbin scored again with 2:55 to go in the half on a six-yard run by Lawson to take a 22-7 advantage. Lawson added the two-point conversion as well.
After a third-quarter stalemate, Corbin opened the fourth with a 52-yard breakaway by Lawson, giving the Hounds a 30-7 lead.
In almost exactly a minute, Elizabethtown used their version of the no-huddle, hurry-up offense and scored with 10:49 to go in the game and tighten it to 30-14.
The Hounds sealed the deal on a three-yard reverse to senior receiver Isaac Mills. The two point conversion made it 38-14.
E-town would score again with 2:41 to go, but Corbin was able to milk the clock for a win.
Jewell said the key to victory was Corbin defense.
“The kids had to believe in themselves,” Jewell said. “They did a great job of studying this week. We tried to disguise everything we do. We lined up one way and then shifted into a different defense every single time.”
Burnett said his team’s lack of a running game hampered its offense. The team had minus-9 yards rushing in the first half and finished with only 13 total yards on 14 attempts.
Elizabethtown was held to just 277 yards of total offense while Corbin racked up 426 for the game, 259 on the ground alone.
Corbin is one of only four teams left playing in Class 2A football and will face Region 1 champ Owensboro Catholic at 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Campbell Field. The Aces defeated Glasgow 28-14 in the region championship game last week. The team is 9-4 overall this season.
Elizabethtown 7 0 0 13 – 20
Corbin 6 16 0 16 – 38
C – Brad Lawson 1 run (Travis Arena kick failed) 4:53
E – A.J. French 14 pass from Chris Todd (Robbie Witt kick) 2:19
C – Clint Cashen 1 run (Cashen pass failed) 9:57
C – Sean Gosser safety on Chris Todd 5:50
C – Brad Lawson 6 run (Lawson rush) 2:55
C – Brad Lawson 52 run (Clint Cashen pass) 11:50
E – Jonathan Rusher 1 run (Robbie Witt kick) 10:49
C – Isaac Mills 3 run (Eric Blackwood rush) 3:49
E – Joah Babb 6 pass from Chris Todd (Todd pass failed) 2:41