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Trail leads the path to Hancock's victory

October 29, 2004|by BILL STERNER/Staff Correspondent

HANCOCK - In the up-and-down, emotional world of high school coaching, Hancock football coach John Blake had the roller coaster ride of his life Thursday.

Playing an unscouted opponent in Timber Ridge on Parents' Night, Blake found out just an hour before kickoff that doctors shelved centerpiece fullback Josh Ruppenthal for the game due to a skin infection on his right knee.

But Hancock (8-1) responded as junior Jaret Trail scored three touchdowns and rushed 18 times for 125 yards and the Panthers stayed perfect at Imphong Field with a 35-6 victory.

"What a day," Blake said. "This is one of those times when your wife says, 'Hey, Honey, how was your day?'... And you just don't know where to start."

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The Panthers started early, driving the ball 67 yards in 14 plays for a score - a 3-yard TD run by Trail. Ryan Joy added the point after and the Panthers led, 7-0.

After the Titans turned the ball over on a fumble at their own 38, senior quarterback Kenny Clark found Joy wide open behind the defense for another first-quarter touchdown.

"We stepped up," Blake said. "The guys who had to step up did so. I'm happy we could adjust."

The Panthers opened the second quarter driving the ball deep into Titans territory. Clark connected with Joy again, this time for 25 yards on third-and-7, giving Hancock the ball at the Timber Ridge 16.

From there, Trail and halfback Derick Clingerman, who finished with 101 yards rushing on 15 carries, muscled the ball to the 1. Trail punched it in for a 21-0 lead.

Trail scored his third touchdown - a 34-yard scoot down the left sideline - early in the third quarter to make it 28-0.

"Our kids played with a little emotion, and we really cut down on the mistakes," Blake said.

But the Titans were not so lucky. Timber Ridge lost three fumbles and had an interception by Clark kill a potential drive late in the first half.

The misfortune carried into the second half as the Titans lost two fumbles in the third quarter.

After Titans quarterback Rob Lindsay ran 23 yards for a score late in the fourth quarter, Hancock quickly returned the favor. Clark scored from 1 yard out, icing the Panthers' eighth win - a school record for victories in a season shared by the 1963 and '65 teams.

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