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SPRINGFIELD — Elizabethtown’s defense set the tone early Friday night, while the Panthers’ offense put the game away late.
With two forced fumbles by lineman Desmond Wiley and an interception by junior defensive back Thad Humphrey, Elizabethtown forced an improbable three turnovers in the first 6 minutes, while sophomore halfback Berneil Cecil scored three of his four rushing touchdowns in the final 10 minutes as the Panthers turned a one-possession game in the fourth quarter into a 33-6 win.
Elizabethtown, ranked 12th in Class 3-A in the latest Associated Press statewide poll, has outscored its opponents 95-17 as it moved to 3-0 for the first time since 2006. The Panthers also ended their 13-game losing streak in neutral or road games.
The Commanders’ first drive ended as Wiley forced a fumble with a sack and end Brandon Cochran recovered it. Washington County’s second drive ended with a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown by Humphrey after junior outside linebacker Tevin Lucas tipped it. And Wiley forced a fumble on Washington County’s third possession as senior outside linebacker James Washington recovered it.
Wiley was in on 11 tackles – including four for a loss and one sack –and broke up a pass.
Elizabethtown junior outside linebacker Daniel Elder was in on a team-high 13 tackles, including two for a loss and one sack.
Cecil has posted back-to-back games with at least four touchdowns and 200 yards. A week after carrying the ball 19 times for 229 yards in a lopsided home win against Edmonson County, Cecil torched the Commanders (1-2) for 235 yards on 32 carries.
In the final 24 minutes, Cecil – who leads the area in carries, rushing yards and points – had 167 yards on 20 carries.
Elizabethtown clung to a 14-7 lead in the final 10 minutes, but in Washington County’s final four possessions, Elizabethtown’s defense forced three punts and time ran out during the other. The Panthers’ offensive line took care of the rest, paving the way for Cecil to do his thing.
Cecil capped off a 13-play, 81 yards drive with 9:23 left with a 7-yard touchdown run, ended a seven-play, 36-yard drive with 4:57 left with a 9-yard scoring run and capped off a seven-play, 34-yard drive with 1:26 left with an 11-yard run.
UP NEXT: Elizabethtown plays at South Warren at 8 p.m. Friday.
Nathaniel Bryan can be reached at 270-505-1758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.