HOWARD — The Grandview Heights’ defense lived up to its billing as it forced four disastrous first-half fumbles and took an early four-touchdown lead over the host East Knox Bulldogs. The Bobcats cruised on to a 41-19 victory in Friday nonconference football action.
“Basically, we turned the ball over four times and spotted them 28 points,” said East Knox coach Tom Holton. “You take those four plays out and halftime looks a lot different.”
Each of the first two lost fumbles led to scores on the ensuing Bobcats’ drive. Both drives were capped by touchdown passes (6 and 35 yards) from Bobcats’ quarterback Oliver Rouch (5-of-15, 92 yards) to wide receiver Tyler Fitzgerald (four catches, 81 yards).
“Our corners got beat twice and they scored those early touchdowns off of those fumbles,” said Holton.
Then, it was the Grandview defense’s turn to join in as they separated the Bulldogs from the ball two more times and ran the ball into the end zone themselves. The Bulldogs got stripped of the football on back-to-back drives in the middle of the second quarter. Bobcats’ linebacker Colin Ridgeway grabbed the first fumble at his own 15 and took it 85 yards to score. On the Bulldogs next possession, they got it into Grandview territory once again. This time, it was Rouch playing defense back who swiped the ball in the Bulldogs’ backfield and ran it in from 58 yards.
“We didn’t do a good job of picking up their linebackers at all in the first half or, for that matter, the first part of the second half,” said Holton. “We have to hang on the football — turning over the football. You can’t do that.”
There were some bright spots for the Bulldogs. Quarterback Tyler Clement (7-of-11, 93 yards in the first half) brought the Bulldogs back on the first play after Rouch’s touchdown return hitting wide receiver Khai Haralson (four catches, 82 yards) with a 44-yard touchdown pass.
“Tyler wasn’t getting a whole lot of time to throw the ball in the first half,” said Holton. “Still he played pretty decently in the first half. Khai ran a nice route and Tyler threw him a a good ball there. Not enough of that.”
With nearly 200 yards rushing and over 100 in the air, the Bulldogs topped the Bobcats in total offense. It was the 151 yards that the Bobcats picked up after fumble recoveries that made the difference.
East Knox running back Colton Tucker carried the ball 17 times for 79 hard-fought yards, sustaining and shaking off several fierce shots from the Bobcats’ defense.
“Colton plays hard every down, every play,” said Holton. “He’s in there working and trying to make things happen. Colton is a tough kid and a hard-nosed football player.”
Devin Wears added 10 carries of his own for 73 yards along with a pair of catches for 13 more.
“At times we looked good,” said Holton. “We were rushing the ball well. I thought some of the routes we ran we got open but we didn’t have time to get them the football. Defensively, in the first half, we played fairly well.”
East Knox is back in action at home on Friday, hosting Wynford.