HAMLIN — Friday night’s Logan at Lincoln County high school football game was like two games rolled into one — the proverbial “tale of two halves” if you will.
The Logan Wildcats overcame a sluggish start and then buried the homestanding Panthers, 48-0, at the Hamlin Lions Club Field to improve to 3-0 on the season.
Logan turned the ball over three times and led winless Lincoln County just 6-0 at the half. The Wildcats then turned up the intensity and crushed the Panthers in the second half by outscoring LC 42-0.
The story of the game was Logan’s defense, which picked off Panther quarterback Grant Bates four times and pitched its second shutout of the season. With the earlier wins over Man (33-0) and Shady Spring (33-7) Logan has allowed just one touchdown in 12 quarters of football and have outscored its opponents 114-7.
Another story of the game was senior quarterback Chris Marcum and junior wide receiver Josh Rein. Marcum was 10-for-17 passing for 304 yards and four touchdowns — three scores going to Rein from 65, 40 and 98 yards out — and had one TD himself. Rein had five catches on the night for 247 yards. Marcum threw just four passes in the second half but three of them went for scores to Rein.
As a team, Logan rushed 42 times for 304 yards. With Marcum’s identical 304 yards passing, the Wildcats combined for 608 yards of total offense.
So what turned around Logan in the second half?
A Knute Rockne-like halftime speech?
“We just talked to them about intensity,” Logan coach Gary Mullins said. “Our intensity just wasn’t there early. We were playing pretty good on offense and defense in the first half but our intensity and doing the little things wasn’t there. We don’t fumble the football ever but we put it on the ground two times. I was embarrassed with our intensity in the first half. It was like we were going through the motions at times. We have to know better than that but if we can learn a lesson from that for the rest of the year we’ll take it and run with it.”
Lincoln County played Logan nearly even in the first half. The Panthers had been blown out by Huntington and Scott in their first two games. Logan leads the all-time series 4-1 with Lincoln County. The last time the Cats came to Hamlin two years ago Logan had to squeak out a 9-6 win in a Saturday night clash.
Were the Wildcats taking the Panthers lightly at the get-go?
“I don’t know how it could be because we talked to them all week,” Mullins said. “When our seniors were freshmen they were 1-9 but we played hard every week to win those games. We knew that we would see the exact same thing with these guys. We knew what would happen. We thought that they would give a great effort and they did play pretty good but what I was disappointed about was us putting it on the ground. We were moving the ball but we just turned it over. Next week, it will be 42-0 and we’ll be losing if we play like that.”
Logan was able to score on its first drive of the second half as Marcum ran in from 5 yards out. Marcum then connected with Worm Street on the two-point conversion as the Wildcats led 14-0 with 9:23 to go in the third quarter.
Khaleel Reynolds, who also came in at quarterback at times for Logan, then had a 4-yard TD run out of the shotgun with 1:38 left. Marcum fired to C.J. Williams on the conversion and the Cats held a 22-0 lead.
Marcum then intercepted Bates on Lincoln County’s next drive. Then, on the very next snap, he hit Rein on a 65-yard strike with six ticks to go in the quarter. The extra point kick by Brian Craft was no good, leaving the score at 28-0 in favor of Logan.
The Wildcats then turned the game into a rout in the fourth quarter.
On a fourth-and-12 play, Marcum dropped back and found Rein again — this one on a 40-yard touchdown pass with 10:12 left in the game. Craft’s PAT was good as Logan led 35-0.
“We weren’t trying to run it up or anything like that,” Mullins said of the score. “We’re trying to get better. We had missed that long ball a couple of times and we felt like we had to take an opportunity to take it again. We had good execution that time.”
Lincoln County drove the ball deep into Logan’s red zone on its next drive, threatening to score. Bates, however, was intercepted in the end zone by the Wildcats’ Trent Dalton, who tried to take the ball out but was tackled at the 2-yard line.
Instead of a kneel down and a touchback to put the ball at the 20, Logan had 98 long yards to go to reach pay dirt.
Logan did it in one play as Marcum fired a 98-yard bomb to Rein for another touchdown. Craft’s extra point kick split the uprights and the Cats led 42-0 with 5:10 remaining in the ballgame.
But Logan wasn’t done.
With 2:07 to go and all of the starters out of the game, Logan went to its reserves and JV players.
The Wildcats gave the Panthers a little going away present as freshman running back Skyler Miller scored a 24-yard touchdown run to finish off the scoring at 48-0 as Craft missed the PAT.
Logan scored its only touchdown of the first half with 6:25 left as Marcum passed for a 6-yard touchdown to Reynolds, who also saw some time at quarterback in the first half.
“Marcum took a helmet to the shin,” Mullins said. “Chris was pressing a little bit there in the first half early in the game and he was making decisions that he normally doesn’t make. I think when he got hit and went over there to the sideline and got some ice on that real fast it calmed him down. That’s what he needed. It was only his fifth start and he’ll get better and better.”
Mullins said he’s happy where his team is at.
“We’re 3-0 for the third year in a row and we can’t complain too much,” he said. “But we have to get better next week. We were terrible in the first half and good in the second half. We weren’t very good at all in the first half but we played with intensity in the second half.”
Worm Street finished the game with 10 rushes for 60 yards. Tyler Vernatter had six carries for 57 yards, while Reynolds had 10 attempts for 46 yards. Marcum had eight totes for 51 yards, while Brant Williams rushed four times for 50 yards.
Miller added two rushes for 28 yards. Matt Cox and Chris Browning each had a late game carry for six yards.
Reynolds added four catches for 54 yards.
Craft was 1-for-3 in extra point kicks and punted just once — a 53-yard boomer in the first half.
On defense, Logan was led in tackles by Street, Tyler Workman and C.J. Williams, who had seven tackles each. Thomas Hunter and nose guard Teddy Nelson had six each, while T.J. Tomblin, Nick Turner, Kade Doss, Marcum and Vernatter had five each.
Clayton Marcum contributed four tackles. Browning and Brant Williams had three stops each. Jacob Browning, Stephen Dilly and Tyler Vance had two each. Reynolds, Miller, Nate Smith, Chance Conn and Brian Ball all had one each.
Chris Browning also had three tackles on special teams. Brant Williams had two and Jacob Browning, Clayton Marcum, Workman, Miller and C.J. Williams had one each.
Chris Marcum had two interceptions and three pass breakups. Street, Workman and Dalton had one pick each.
Brant Williams and Tomblin each had a sack.
Workman also added a fumble recovery.
Street added two pass breakups. C.J. Williams, Clayton Marcum and Dalton had one each.
“We really played well in the second half. We were very explosive, and came off the ball hard. I am proud of our guys effort,” Mullins said.
Logan travels to Paintsville, Ky., next Friday night to take on the Johnson Central Golden Eagles. Johnson Central is 3-0 all-time against Mullins and the Wildcats and won last year’s game 36-6 at Logan.
“They will be the best team that we’ve played up until this point,” Mullins said. “They are physical and they will come after you. We would like to elevate our play to take on these big teams. We’re definitely going to have to play better than we did tonight in order to beat them.”
Johnson Central was idle on Friday night and carries a 2-1 record into the game. The Golden Eagles won 39-7 at home in the opener to Hayesville, N.C., then won 44-36 at Perry Central, Ky., before losing 39-29 at Knox Central, Ky., on Aug. 31, in a game which was televised on Hazard, Ky., TV station WYMT (Channel 11 on Suddenlink).