ELLENBORO - Visiting Clay County rushed for 286 yards and four touchdowns, hit some timely passes, and utilized a smothering defense to pick up a 25-7 Little Kanawha Conference victory-the Panthers' first win in three tries-over host Ritchie County Friday night at Chuck Schofield Memorial Stadium.
Junior tailback Jordan Lucas gained 156 yards and scored touchdowns on runs of 7 and 49 yards on 23 attempts as Clay County improved to 1-2 on the season with the Panthers' first home game slated for next Friday night against Valley Fayette.
Ritchie County, which plays host to Braxton County on Friday, received 64 yards rushing from Jesse Hilvers and quarterback Trevor Shepler completed 10-of-20 attempts for 98 yards and one touchdowns as the Rebels dropped to 1-2 on the campaign.
Clay County took the opening kickoff and drove 62 yards in 12 plays to take the lead for good, 6-0, with 6:01 remaining in the first quarter. The Panthers ran the ball on all, but two plays with Lucas, who scored from 7 yards out, carrying the ball on seven plays for 31 yards.
That would be the strategy used by the Clay coaching staff the entire evening as 45 of the Panthers' 53 offensive plays were on the ground. Richard Ahart added 97 yards on six carries while James Brogan chipped in with 19 on six totes of the pigskin.
Ritchie County proved to be its own enemy from the start as time after time the Rebels would drive deep into Panther territory only to self-destruct. Shepler's 7-yard completion to Dylan Frye with 29.2 seconds on the clock proved to be the hosts' only score of the night as freshman Orlando Burgy added the PAT to pull Ritchie to within five, 12-7, at the intermission.
That, however, would be as close as the Rebels would get as Clay needed only two plays in the third quarter to tack on its third six-pointer of the night on a 10-yard scamper by William Stewart with 10:05 showing on the clock.
The drive was set up by an interception by Aaron Williams at the Rebels' 50. A 40-yard scamper by Ahart gave the visitors a first-and-10 at the Ritchie 10 and Stewart, who completed 5-of-8 passes for 75 yards, culminated the drive on the next play.
Ritchie appeared to have its offense untracked on its ensuing possession, driving to the Panthers' five before a 5-yard penalty and back-to-back sacks by the Clay defense placed the ball at the 27. Two incompletions to Frye, who finished with four catches for 48 yards, ended the Rebel scoring drive with 4:32 left in the third quarter.
Clay would add an insurance touchdown as the final quarter opened. Lucas was again the workhorse, carrying the ball on four of the Panthers' five plays-the final one going for the 49-yard touchdown.