LLOYD — As Greenup County watched its 24-point lead vanish late in the fourth quarter to Fleming County on Friday night, Musketeers coach Scott Grizzle knew all along he had the “Wright” guy to finish the job and secure the win.
Grizzle watched the Panthers roll off 30 unanswered points after Josh Crump found Jaden Waller for a 44-yard touchdown to give Fleming its only lead of the game, 30-24. But the rookie skipper wouldn’t have to see the deficit for very long.
On the ensuing kickoff, Jake Wright took the kick, fumbled and then scooped up the ball for a 90-yard game-winning kickoff return for a touchdown as the Musketeers overcame the Panthers’ late-game heroics for a 31-30 win at home.
Grizzle predicted in pregame Wright was due for a big game, noting his actions during the team walk through prior to the game.
“I could just tell by his demeanor today in our walk-through,” Grizzle said of Wright. “He was really focused and he came up to me tonight about 5 o’clock and said ‘Coach, I’m ready.’”
Wright finished with only 38 yards on 13 carries, but his biggest play of the night could not have come at a better moment.
“He was due,” Grizzle said. “Jake is a great player and it was his time. The past couple of weeks he’s been a little slow, got started a little bit slow and I just knew he was due. Great players make great plays and that’s what he did.”
Greenup stormed out to an early 24-0 lead in the second quarter only to watch Fleming chip away a little at a time until taking the lead in the final stanza with just fewer than five minutes remaining. Crump tossed four scores to complete the comeback while the Panthers’ defense all but halted the Musketeers’ offensive assault.
“Fleming made some great adjustments at halftime,” Grizzle said. “When we got in our two-back set they started to load the box more and really started crashing those defensive ends, too. It was similar to what Russell did to us last week. Teams are going to do that to use, load the box and make us throw it and that’s what they (Fleming) did.”
Fleming held Greenup to 190 yards rushing and only 30 yards through the air, with a large chunk of its total coming in the first 15 minutes.
Cade Warnock led the Musketeers with 103 yards on 17 carries, including a pick-six in the first quarter that gave Greenup a 14-0 edge.
“Cade is a very hard-nosed player and is a blue-collar type of guy,” Grizzle said. “He gets in there and works his tail off. He’s a load on offense and we probably need to feed him more, but he does a great job and when Cade gets downhill at you, he’s tough to tackle.”
Warnock’s longest run of night ended in a gain of 37 yards after the bullish back dragged several would-be tacklers along.
Jherrell Jackson gave Greenup its first points of the game on a 4-yard run and Chase Hunt found Isaiah Greene for an 8-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead. Justin Davis extended the advantage to 24-0 on a 22-yard field goal, but Fleming refused to go away.
Crump finished 16 of 30 with 233 yards and four touchdowns. He completed nine passes in a row before his final two fell incomplete as Greenup secured the win. Crump also added 39 yards on the ground on five carries.