Another fast start carried the Caldwell County Tigers to a decisive and convincing victory, but no one expected another first-half running clock this time around.
Against Union County on Homecoming night, 50 points and 485 yards of total offense was more than enough to get it done, but the Tiger defense also had a hand; allowing no second half passing yards in a 50-13 trouncing of the Braves in Week 4 Friday night.
And if that wasn't enough to get to 4-1 heading into perhaps their weakest opponent thus far in Week 6, running back De'Eric Hollowell made sure the Tigers got there (230 rushing yards in 11 carries with four touchdowns).
"He absolutely did," Caldwell County head coach Waynee McGowan said. "Along with those guys up front, especially those offensive lineman. They came out and just made it easy to run for him. You know, sometimes things are clicking and you have those nights. De'Eric, man, he's got some good stuff. He has great feet, quickness and his vision is really good. He made things look really easy."
Through five games in the 2019 season, Hollowell has rushed for 571 yards in 64 carries with nine touchdowns, averaging over 114 yards per game.
Hollowell also has two TD catches to his senior resume (59 yards receiving in nine catches).
On top of all that, Hollowell knew just what cuts to make the other night, doing groundbreaking and evasive things that he wasn't even capable of last season.
The Tigers wasted no time in their demolishing of the Braves, putting up a 36-0 halftime lead and their third running clock through the first five games of the season. Caldwell County quarterback Russ Beshear continued to look his best in the pocket with 15 pass completions in 18 throws, Gabe Dyer even got some time at QB late as the Tigers were able to substitute reserves with their 50-0 lead.
Hollowell's four-touchdown performance included one of the highlight plays in all of west Kentucky when he went 68-yards for his final touchdown play.
Beshear also finished with a rushing touchdown, finding Logan Smiley and Tate VanHooser (a touchdown and five catches for 50 yards) for the two scores in the air.
Blake Vivrette didn't miss a beat with his six extra point kicks, and the Tiger defense was invested with seven team sacks.
Ben Holt (8 tackles and 2 sacks), Elijah Shaheen (6 tackles and 2.5 sacks), Jack Stevens (five tackles) Travion Samuel (4 tackles and a sack) and Devin Kilgore (t2 tackles and 1.5 sacks) were all big winners on this night, as Union County wouldn't score until the fourth quarter when both sides had their reserves in.
Caldwell County won their 10th straight in the season series with the Braves, and after nearly 500 yards of offense, Caldwell County now has a clear path to a 5-1 start as they enter their first Class 2A 1st District game of the season at Ballard Memorial before a showdown with Class 2A rival Mayfield in Princeton next Friday.
But, first things first. They have to take care of business on the road.
"They were shuffling some guys around and we knew on film they would use a couple of guys at quarterback," McGowan added. "It looked like they would get Teehah at the receiver and that's something they'll continue to work on. But coming in, we knew what they were going to do and we were able to just be patient and not panic, adjusting to what they were giving us.
"These guys are tough, those are some tough, scrappy kids and we were expecting to be in a dogfight all night. We came out with a fast start and the tempo was good, we were clicking and making plays that made a difference. They had five or six guys going both ways, running all over the field trying to chase guys on defense then turning around to block someone on offense. That makes a difference and that makes it a little tough."
Now come the Bombers (0-4) who are, to say the least, re-constructing their offense as much as anyone else in the area in west Kentucky after the loss of senior quarterback Erick Marinelli last summer.
Marinelli threw for 2530 passing yards in 186 completions (424 attempts and 15 interceptions) in his senior season with 34 TD completions, but the Bombers have been lost in his absence.
In the shoes of Marinelli in the pocket, has been senior quarterback Parker Rathman (3-of-6 in the air through three games with 14 net yards passing, as the Bombers are most likely to prefer the ground game on Friday night.
The no-huddle air raid attack of the past is long gone for the Bombers, who now run an option offense.
The Bombers have 277 rushing yards of offense against 14 passing yards.
The Bombers also lost Marinelli's top target in the air in Drew Cox (972 receiving yards in 61 receptions with 15 TD catches) and their top rusher in Hunter Bray (306 rushing yards with two TDs) to graduation, while losing starters in Colton Baker and Carson Bishop, but return a few key ingredients in wide receivers Trenton Howard (the second leading receiver last year with 722 receiving yards and 13 touchdown catches in 60 receptions) and Dequin Donlow (6 touchdown catches and 500 yards receiving in 33 catches).
Trenton Howard has two of the three rushing touchdowns through the first three games of the season for the Bombers, who have yet to throw for a score to a receiver.
Ballard Memorial's top leading tackler in linebacker Trevor Howard returns after a 72-tackle junior campaign. Howard already has one rushing touchdown and 20 tackles in four games this season, half of them solo, while Jaydon Sullivan will be their other top defensive player to watch.
The Bombers will play a 3-4 base defensively and have a new defensive coordinator at the helm in Todd Cabral.
The Bombers have been making strides defensively and return multiple starters on that end after losing most of their offense from last season, and the Howard boys at the cornerbacks will be a significant cornerstone. Senior Beau Smith, junior Logan Hargrove and a host of underclassmen round out the new defensive faces.
Trenton Howard and Trevor Howard have been the only two receiving options at all for the Bombers under pressure (with three total catches).
"I hadn't seen a whole lot of them, but I would say they'll line up and run it a little bit, but what we have to do is worry about ourselves and we have to get ourselves ready," coach McGowan added. "It's a road trip and getting on the bus, if can cost your mind to leave you or whatever and not focus. We need to be focused all week and get ready to get on the road and get the district games rolling to continue to play well and take care of business."
The Tigers and Bombers will be playing for the first time since 2014 when the Tigers were in Class 2A.
Caldwell County beat the Bombers twice that season with legendary Tiger QB and current Purdue player Elijah Sindelar at the helm.
So, are the 4-1 Tigers where they want to be right now at this point in the season?
"I'd have to say yes, with the exception of the Hoptown game which is a really tough team," McGowan said. "You know, coming in we had expectations and the closer that we got to the first game, I knew we were getting a lot better offensively. Not saying we were going to knock the roof off, but we were improving, I did know that. I think we're in a pretty good spot right now and we have to take the 4-1 start and grow from it and not get complacent."
Ballard Memorial finished 3-8 last season, and are coached by Mark Brooks, in his fourth campaign with the Bombers.
Though the winless Bombers (0-4) haven't been successful in most pursuits so far this season, they have played some extremely stiff competition in Trigg County, Crittenden County and most recently Madisonville North Hopkins.
The Bombers have not scored more than one touchdown in any of their games thus far after scoring at least 50 points in three different games during Marinelli's watch in 2018.
Kickoff from Ballard Memorial is set for 7 p.m. Friday night for Week 6.
Week 5 Box Score
Caldwell County 50
Union County 13
Caldwell Co. 21 15 14 0 - 50
Union Co. 0 0 0 13 - 13
CC: De'Eric Hollowell 30-yard run (Blake Vivrette PAT GOOD) 7-0, 7:49 1Q
CC:Russ Beshear 2-yard run (Vivrette PAT GOOD) 14-0, 2:30 1Q
CC:De'Eric Hollowell 28-yard run (Vivrette PAT GOOD) 21-0, :01 1Q
CC: Logan Smiley 14-yard pass from Beshear (Vivrette PAT GOOD) 28-0 6:15 2Q
CC:De'Eric Hollowell 38-yard run (2-PT Conversion GOOD) 36-0 2:22 2Q
CC: De'Eric Hollowell 65-yard run (PAT GOOD) 43-0 10:39 3Q
CC:Tate VanHooser 3-yard pass from Beshear (PAT GOOD) 50-0 4:30 3Q
UC: Ben Shreve 1-yard run (PAT GOOD) 50-7, 9:24 4Q
UC: Kris Hughes 2-yard run (PAT NO GOOD) 50-13 0:06 4Q
Caldwell County Individual stats
CC: DeEric Hollowell 11-233, Russ Besheaer 8-26, Travion Samuel 3-22, Logan Smiley 3-17, , Jamus Carneyhan 2-6, Barren Wells 2-2, Logan Chambliss 1-(-6).
CC:Russ Beshear 14-16-0, 170 yards, Gabe Dyer 1-2-0, 9 yards.
CR: Ben Shreve 3-15, 37 yards.
CC: Tate VanHooser 5-48, Logan Smiley 4-51, Barren Wells 3-46, Tripp Branch 2-24, Jack Stevens 1-9.
UC: Kale Gaither 2-26, Solomon Teehan 1-11.
Blake Vivrette 6-6 PAT.
CC: Ben Holt 8, Elijah Shaheen 6, Jack Stevens 5, Aaron Hensley 4, Travion Samuel 4, Max Kramer 3, Riley Orange 3, Max Ashley 3, Barren Wells 2, Devin Kilgore 2, Barrett Cotton 2, Jamus Carneyhan 2, Drew Davis 2, Ethan Shearon 1, Clayton Woford 1, Aaron Zoibro 1, Gabe Dyer 1, Nick Sherrill 1, Jordan Ladd 1, Canyon Richardson 1, Tate VanHooser 1.
Elijah Shaheen 2.5, Holt 1.5, Kilgore 1.5, Woford 1, Samuel 1.
Caldwell County 4-1
Week 6, Caldwell County (4-1) at Ballard Memorial (0-4), 7 p.m.
Caldwell County Team stats
Rushing yards: 300
Rushing yards allowed: 139
Passing yards: 178
total yards: 478
Passing yards allowed: 37
Pass attempts: 18
Rushing attempts: 30 (10 yards per rush)
3rd down conversions: 6-8
Fumbles lost: 0
Turnovers forced: 2
Penalties: 2 (21 yards lost)