Cards fall to Defenders in Lexington

Published 10:30 am Monday, October 9, 2023

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The George Rogers Clark Cardinals football team prepared for a challenging game on Friday night, hoping for an unexpected win.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.

The Cards (4-3) fell to the Bryan Station Defenders (5-2) 51-6 in a game between teams of identical records – at least coming into the contest.

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“They’re a good football team,” said GRC head coach Joe Chirico. “We [have] got to work harder. I’ve got to do a better job as coach of getting us ready to play.”

Playing a team that defeated the Cards last season en route to finishing in the Class 6A semifinals, GRC hoped to gain some early momentum.

However, a long opening kickoff return by Defenders’ freshman Demond Green set up their offense at the GRC 20-yard line.

Just one play later, former Cardinal Kalen “Jaws” Washington took a handoff and ran into the endzone for a 20-yard touchdown to give Bryan Station a 7-0 lead only 20 seconds into the game.

Bryan Station received the ball following a three-and-out and punt by the Cards.

Though their defense would force Bryan Station into a fourth down, the conversion kept a drive going, ending with QB Trenton Cutwright’s 15-yard touchdown run with 5:10 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Cards moved the ball on the ensuing possession and appeared to pick up a significant gain on a completion between QB Sam Clements and wide receiver Mahni John.

Unfortunately for them, a penalty nullified the play.

After the Cards failed to convert on fourth down, Bryan Station took over and built a commanding 21-0 lead following Washington’s 16-yard TD run with 11:10 remaining in the second quarter.

The Defenders would score twice more on a 1-yard TD run by Washington and 74-yard touchdown completion from Cutwright to Green – along with a two-point conversion – for a 36-0 halftime lead.

Knowing his team will play defending state champion Frederick Douglass High School next week, Bryan Station head coach Phil Hawkins advised his team not to look too far ahead coming into Friday’s contest.

“We knew this could be a trap. Joe Chirico’s a pretty [darn] good coach”, he said. “I told the staff and the kids [that] we’ve got to be careful. He could come in here with a plan and just slow the whole thing down…he’s got a fine group of kids.”

In the second half, the Cards’ offense showed signs of life as Clements connected with John for a 23-yard touchdown pass with 11:14 remaining in the fourth quarter.

“That was a good throw and catch [and] good route,” Chirico added. “We’ve just got to do more of that.”

After a Cards’ penalty pushed the ball back on a kickoff, Green would get the Defenders on the scoreboard again with a 74-yard return for a touchdown.

The final score of the evening came when running back Bayubahe Benit scored on an 8-yard touchdown run as both teams were playing reserves.

For the Cards, Clements finished 7-13 passing for 72 yards and one TD, while Hayden Heath was the leading rusher with 11 carries for 48 yards as GRC finished with 144 yards of total offense.

Cutwright finished 8-11 passing for 176 yards and one TD for the Defenders, while Washington was the leading rusher with seven carries for 63 yards and three touchdowns as Bryan Station tallied 301 yards of total offense.