The start of the second half could have gone one of two ways.
A long drive and score by Meade County would have kept all the momentum on its side.
A three-and-out and subsequent score by Elizabethtown would mean that same momentum would have shifted sides of the field.
It went the Panthers’ way.
They held the Green Wave to a three-and-out and scored four plays later.
“We figured out that 50 (Myran Page) was taking us to the play the whole time,” Panthers junior Camran McNeil said. “We started keying him and we came out in the second half and made plays. We got it together, came out in the second half and executed.”
Elizabethtown scores on its first three second-half possessions to post a 34-13 victory over Meade County Friday evening at the Elizabethtown Athletic Complex.
“We talked to them at halftime. They were down and looked like they didn’t have any energy,” Panthers coach Mark Brown said. “I said, ‘Guys, we have played pretty bad and we’re still up. All we have to do is get some energy about us and let’s play defense. It’s all about run, block and tackle. We have to start tackling people, make them punt and we can score.’
“We played a lot better in the second half.”
The Green Wave had 43 yards on 21 plays in the third and fourth quarters.
“You’ve got to give E’town credit,” Meade County coach Larry Mofield said. “It seemed like we had some momentum at the end of the first half. They came back out in the second half and stopped our run game. Our inability to move it in the second half and E’town’s ability to play good defense in the second half was big. They made some plays through the air, too, so you have to give them a lot of credit.”
The Panthers’ second-half scoring drives were 30, 33 and 11 yards.
“That’s been the story of our season, we’ve left our defense out there. Every game, minus the Apollo game at times when we didn’t tackle well, we’ve played pretty good defense. We’ve stopped the run a lot of times. Our inability to move the ball on offense has hung our defense out to dry.
“We’re having some issues with our special teams right now. We lost our punter last week in Austin (Oppel) and he had been doing a good job with those rugby-style kicks. We weren’t able to punt it real well.”
After a 5-yard punt by Meade County on the first possession of the second half, Elizabethtown eventually faced a fourth-and-8 from Meade County’s 27.
Junior quarterback Clay Games found sophomore TJ Allen on a post pattern for a touchdown at 7:26 of the third period.
“That was a great play,” McNeil said. “It was a good ball by Clay and a good catch by TJ, too. I’m just hype for my teammates that they made that play.”
The Panthers scored on their next possession, this after Joe Becherer recovered a fumble as the Green Wave had a first-and-10 at the Panthers’ 38.
Camran McNeil scored from the 2 on the eighth play of the drive, which was aided by an 11-yard pass from Games to McNeil on third-and-nine at the 32, and a 13-yard pass to Camden Williams on fourth-and-four from the 15.
Parsons’ PAT at 1:14 of the third quarter gave the hosts a 27-13 lead.
“We knew we had to come out in the second half and get on our blocks,” McNeil said. “We knew that we could be a better team than what we were doing. We weren’t playing to our full potential. Coach gave us a pep talk, got us all fired up and we came out and executed.”
Williams intercepted a third-down pass on Meade County’s next possession and Games connected with Love Grimes from 16-yards out 55 seconds into the fourth period for the final score.
“The short fields helped us out the entire time,” McNeil said. “That gave us momentum. The defense kept making stops, getting us the ball in good spots. That was the biggest factor.”
Games finished 8-for-11 for 122 yards and the two scores.
“They were still able to throw the ball in adverse conditions,” Mofield said. “They really didn’t bat an eye. They were still able to fling it around in bad conditions.”
Meade County had 153 yards on 32 snaps in the first half (4.78 per play).
“They’re bigger than us, so we figured they would line up and try to pound it down our throat,” Brown said. “They did a good job of doing what they do. They just ran it right at us.
“We told the kids at halftime, ‘Are you ever going to figure out that he (Page) is probably going to take you to the play?’ It’s not rocket science. He back there in the backfield for a reason. He’s gonna block and run the ball.”
Meade County’s defense did a brilliant job all night on the Panthers’ stout running game.
Elizabethtown had 30 carries for 64 yards.
“We did a good job stopping the run,” Mofield said. “Becherer is had to handle. He’s so shifty and he’s tough. He runs hard. He’s also an outstanding blocker.”
The game opened with Meade County recovering a Panthers fumble on the kickoff return.
It marched 27 yards on four plays from the 43-yard line to first-and-10 at the 16.
The Green Wave fumbled the ball on fourth-and-7 from the 13 and McNeil scooped-and-scored from 84 yards out at 8:13 of the first quarter.
“I was on a stunt in the gap and he fumbled the ball and it literally bounced right up to me and I got it and went,” McNeil said.
The Panthers hit paydirt on their third offensive possession, this after a minus-1 yard punt, when Allen scored from the 4 just 11 seconds into the second quarter for a 14-0 lead after Brandon Parsons’ second PAT.
“I told our kids at halftime that we could have dropped our heads after that first fumble return they had,” Mofield said. “But we didn’t. We kept grinding and did a nice job offensively.”
Meade County’s fourth possession was a nine play, 47-yard drive that ended 7:19 before halftime when Mason Burnett scored from the 4.
The next time the Green Wave had the ball they went 61 yards on seven plays. Burnett found the end zone from the 8 at 2:02 after a 23-yard pass from Trent Mofield — playing his first game of the season after suffering an elbow injury in the last scrimmage — to Mitchell Dozier on second-and-6 from the 31.
Burnett carried the ball 11 times for 71 yards on those two drives.
He finished with 34 carries for 163 yards in his first game as the workhorse.
“He played really hard,” Mofield said. “I thought he was patient. I thought he ran hard. In the first half I thought our offensive line did a good job opening some holes. We did not sustain that in the second half.”
Meade County ran the ball 47 times for 181 yards as it lost its fifth game in a row after a 2-0 start.
The Panthers (4-2) welcome district foes LaRue County and Bardstown the next two weeks.
Meade County returns to district action the next two weeks, hosting Central Hardin and Barren County.