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Pendleton County beats Nicholas County with tough second half effort

Wildcats go 2-0 in young season as they ready for Bracken County
“I believe Lyle will be the most talented player on the field every game this year,” said Wildcat QB Matt Campbell. “He’s the best running back in the district and he makes a huge impact on plays where he does and doesn’t get the ball.”

Pendleton County had one of their signature wins of the Brian Burgemeir era. Fresh off a 46-0 shellacking of Gallatin County the previous week, the Wildcats grounded out a hard-nosed 38-26 victory against a gritty Nicholas County Bluejacket squad.

The Wildcats were locked in for their rivalry game. The coaching staff had provided the players dry-fit American flag arm sleeves in honor of their Military Appreciation game. Three men on the Wildcat coaching staff have military experience.

The program had special guest and former Army Tech Sargent Harold Hornbeck present the coin toss. Hornbeck is a generational Pendleton County resident. He’s a decorated World War II veteran who served in General George Patton’s famous Third Army, “Patton’s Own”. He earned campaign battle stars for the Battle of the Bulge, Northern France, Central Europe and the Rhineland. He’s also this writer’s grandfather and a proud subscriber of the Falmouth Outlook!

Hornbeck was accompanied by his son, former Marine 1st Lieutenant Walter Hornbeck who is also the Wildcats wide receivers and defensive backs coach. He was also accompanied by former Marine Sargent George Hornbeck, former Marine Sargent Stephen Hornbeck and former Navy Petty Officer Greg Marsh. Walter, George and Greg are all Pendleton County residents. 

At halftime, the pep band performed each individual military service branch’s hymn in a touching homage to veterans everywhere.

Dressed out with the stars and bars, the Wildcats knew they had something to prove. This was a statement game for them. The field was sloppy from rain that fell pre-game and just a few minutes at the start.

The last time the Wildcats started 2-0 was 2017. The last time the Wildcats defeated Nicholas County was in a 18-15 barn-burner back in 2017.

The Wildcats wanted to make a statement from the get-go. On the first play from scrimmage, senior quarterback Matt Campbell dropped back in the pocket and floated a dime into the arms of senior wide receiver Colton Beane who had beaten his corner off the line. Beane streaked up the sideline, caught the ball and headed towards the end zone with nothing but green grass in front of him.

It was arguably one of the most exciting plays to begin a game in Wildcat football history. The Wildcats jumped out to an 8-0 lead after senior running back Lyle Secrist capitalized on the two-point conversion.

“I felt a lot more comfortable throwing on Friday. We had a good week of practice and we had just got some new game balls that we have been waiting on,” said Campbell. “The game plan was to throw the ball a little more and have a more balanced attack against a more challenging opponent than last week.”

Nicholas County answered back to bring the lead to 8-6 after a rushing touchdown of their own. After a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Nicholas County punched in another rushing touchdown in to take the lead 12-8. The next time Nicholas County took possession in the second quarter, they punched another rushing touchdown in to go up 18-8. Although the Bluejackets rushing attack was potent, they had failed to convert on three straight two-point conversions leaving six free points up in the air.

It would come back to bite them as Secrist broke free for a powerful 35 yard rushing touchdown that included a plethora of sick jukes. Campbell punched in the two-point conversion to make the score 18-16. His quarterback sang high praises for him post game.

“I believe Lyle will be the most talented player on the field every game this year,” said Campbell. “He’s the best running back in the district and he makes a huge impact on plays where he does and doesn’t get the ball.”

The Bluejackets were able to counter each Wildcat touchdown with one of their own in the first half. Their offense was working hard. After Secrist’s long touchdown, Nicholas County answered with a nine yard passing touchdown while also punching in their two-point conversion. They took a 26-16 lead. However, the Wildcats weren’t phased as Campbell marched them down the field into the red zone where he competed a nine yard touchdown pass to Colby Beane.

Can anyone remember the last time in program history where a pair of Wildcat twins both caught a touchdown pass in the same game?

The 2019 Wildcats are blazing trails here folks. That scored was the last one before the half. They Wildcats were down 22-26 going into halftime.

The Bluejackets never scored another point in the second half. The Wildcats defense showed up in the biggest moments. One of the key plays from the first half was a stop on fourth down. Nicholas County was threatening to scored but the Wildcat defense had secured a fourth and one. Secrist read their fourth down play from the linebacker position, shed past the line, and met their running back at the point of attack delivering a jarring hit to end the Bluejackets drive. 

Campbell scored a rushing touchdown and converted a two-point conversion in the third quarter to push the lead to 30-26. In the fourth quarter, Secrist ended the game with a monstrous 40 yard touchdown run and two-point conversion. That put the game out of reach for Nicholas County as the 38-26 hole was too much to overcome. The Wildcats had wore down the Bluejackets will in the second half, an important reason why they won the game.

Campbell finished with an impressive stat line of 7/14 for 163 passing yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, he rushed for 57 yards and one touchdown. Secrist has a whopping 148 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He caught two passes for 75 yards with a long of 55 yards. Each Beane brother hauled in a receiving touchdown. On defense, Colton Beane snagged two interceptions and had six tackles. Secrist totaled eight tackles, one for a loss. Sophomore DB Oak Fields had six tackles. Junior linebacker Caleb Rogers had five. Senior interior lineman Patrick Wright had four tackles. Senior defensive end Brian Ferrell had four tackles and one tackle for a loss.

Next week the Wildcats will take on Bracken County in Brooksville. The Wildcats have lost their two previous games against Bracken County so they will be locked in this coming Friday. 

Campbell takes us inside the upcoming game plan for  the Polar Bears:

“We expect Bracken to come out and  compete with us just like every year. We have seen a little bit of what they’re working with through film and a 7 on 7 we played against them earlier this year. One of our key things we like to focus on is to not underestimate any team we play against no matter their record. Our coaches have taught us to come out and compete to the best of our ability against everyone.”

The Wildcats will travel to Brooksville on September 6. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.