Heading into the bye week and ahead of the upcoming district matchups, Ludlow Head Coach Rick Hornsby wanted his Panthers team to improve. Mission accomplished.
“We were talking all week about wanting to be 4-2. We haven’t been there in a long time... that was our goal," Hornsby said. “We wanted to be on a high note going into our district game.”
While his team will receive a few days off, they will be back at it later next week making initial preparations for Dayton. But they could not afford to put the proverbial cart before the horse. Friday, they didn’t.
Ludlow took advantage of an early Berea mistake, then overcame one of its own, to take an early lead on the visitors Friday night at James Rigney Stadium.
Berea junior running back Joshua Lamb fumbled deep in their own territory after being sandwiched by two Ludlow defenders. On the Panthers’ ensuing possession, Ludlow sophomore quarterback Devlin Carter rolled to his left all the way to the end zone, but it was called back due to a holding penalty.
Ludlow’s momentum could not be deflated. A few plays later, Carter again ran to his left as the pocket broke down and found an open Michael Camarena streaking across the end zone for a long touchdown, putting Ludlow on the board, 7-0.
Forcing the Pirates to punt, Ludlow strung together another drive led by several sophomore Matthew Reusch runs – only this time, Berea halted the Panthers’ drive with an interception.
Their momentum continued.
In addition to a big run, the Panthers handed Berea an extra 15 yards due an unnecessary roughness penalty with a late hit on Pirates quarterback Kevin Reed, who was already several yards out of bounds.
Several dropped passes followed, but Reed kept the Berea drive alive with a scramble on fourth down giving his team new life. To begin the second quarter, Berea senior Brenton Phillips rumbled up the middle for a touchdown, but the two-point conversion failed. The Pirates wouldn’t see the end zone again until late in the third.
Ludlow took advantage of the short kickoff to begin their drive on the 47-yard line. On the Panthers’
next play, Reusch sliced through the Berea defense for Ludlow’s second score. Junior Trent Ledbetter’s extra point was no good, making the score 13-6 Panthers. While the sophomore had a great night on the ground, he was quick to deflect praise to his teammates. “I really appreciated my lineman, they did a really good job blocking tonight. I couldn’t have had those runs without them,” Reusch said.
Unable to muster anything on their possession, Berea gave the ball right back. It was junior Jeremiah Martin’s turn, even though he was a bit banged up according to Hornsby. Martin fielded the Pirates’ punt and raced down to the nine of Berea. His number was called again on the next play, and he ran it in to make it 19-6.
Once again, the Pirates were unable to come up with a drive, giving the ball back to Ludlow with good field position on their own 44. Carter called his own number on consecutive run plays, getting the
Panthers to the Berea 33 and a new set of downs. This time, Carter hit sophomore Devin Roberts for the slant and score, and a 27-6 Panthers lead.
Then a big blunder for Berea; punting from its own 42, senior Kevin Reed’s kick deflected off his own teammate and rolled back to the Berea 22, where Ludlow recovered. They would’ve turned the ball over to the Pirates after coming up empty on three downs, but a roughing penalty gave the Panthers another chance. Reusch found the end zone again, putting Ludlow up 34-6 at the half.
After both teams exchanged several drives that came up empty, Berea finally found the end zone via a long touchdown pass from Reed to junior receiver Deondre Tate. The Pirates cut the deficit to 20, 34-14.
The Panthers next score came easily. Backed up against their goal line, Reed dropped back in his own end zone and hit Ludlow defensive back Camarena in the flat, not seeing him as he scanned the field.
The scoreboard now read 40-14 but Ludlow wasn’t quite finished.
Freshman Justin Blackburn completed the scoring for the Panthers, sending the Pirates on their long trip home, 47-14.
Written by Jason Finnell, RCN contributor
In other NKY high school action:
Highlands (5-0) had no problems with Covington Catholic (3-2) as the Bluebirds rolled in Fort Thomas, 42-7
Newport (2-3) rolled on Homecoming night, beating Pendleton Co. (2-4), 62-13
Scott (4-1) suffered its first loss of the season, being routed at Cooper (4-2), 42-7
Holy Cross (1-4) picked up its first win of the season, a big 48-19 rout of Bishop Brossart (1-3)
Newport Central Catholic (1-4) also bagged its first victory of the year, shutting out Lloyd (4-1) 28-0
Dayton (2-3) rolled over Bracked Co., 39-20
Bellevue (3-3) was a big winner over Owen Co. (0-6), 52-0
Ludlow (4-2) held off Berea, 42-14
Beechwood (3-2) roughed up the Holmes Bulldogs (1-4), 49-7
Conner (1-4) picked up its first win, beating South Oldham, 27-21
Dixie Heights (4-1) put away Boone Co. (1-5), 38-7
Simon Kenton (6-0) got by Ryle (1-5), 24-17
Walton-Verona (5-1) annihilated Carroll Co. (1-5), 57-13