VANCEBURG – It’s no secret the Bath County football team likes to run the ball.
The Wildcats ran 69 offensive plays in the Sept. 29 win against West Carter and they all came on the ground.
That rushing attack went off again on Friday, accounting for 436 yards to propel Bath County to a 47-6 win against Lewis County, moving the team to 6-1 and 3-0 in Class 3A, District 5 games.
“Coaches tell me, ‘There’s 11 in the box, coach,’ and I say, ‘Well, there’s been 11 in the box for 100 years.’ I’m not saying we’re Belfry, but there’s 11 in the box at Belfry and they keep running the football,” said Bath County coach Johnny Poynter.
“Right now, it’s something our kids are buying into. We said last week – we had that big win over West Carter – we sat and watched the film and the kids were excited about it. They were like, ‘Watch this kid pancake this guy,’” added Poynter. “It’s a mentality that we’ve got, and right now we’re playing the way we want to.”
The Wildcats got the ball at their own 30-yard line with 4:27 remaining in the first quarter after forcing Lewis County to punt. After a short run from fullback Andy McFarland, Lane Rogers connected with James Fraley for a 25-yard pass.
Then the Swartz show started.
Bath County running back Landan Swartz carried the ball for a 5-yard gain on the following play, and backed it up with a 35-yard run to the end zone to give the Wildcats an 6-0 lead that went to 8-0 after Rogers found Austin Reed for the two-point conversion.
Lewis County got the ball back on their own 24 after the kickoff and drove down into Bath County territory. Quarterback Zach Lehn heaved a ball downfield, but it was picked off by Swartz on the 7-yard line.
“They were driving right there and if they score right there they maybe tie the game up at 8-8 and start to believe a little bit, then it could be a big deal,” said Poynter. “Our defense has been struggling a little bit this year, and right now we’re getting a little bit better and making some tackles, doing a little bit better on the kickoff team, so I’m proud of the overall effort tonight.”
Landan Swartz picks off Zach Lehn on the second play of the second quarter. pic.twitter.com/Ugwkh3YAWU— Jared MacDonald (@JMacDonaldSport) October 6, 2017
After Rogers kept it himself for a few yards, Swartz broke free for a 91-yard rush that resulted in a 16-0 Bath County lead.
“I think with what they were doing, if we make them grind it we’re in the game. They busted those big plays. It’s extremely difficult for a corner or anybody in your secondary to not start cheating in and trying to help, and help, and help,” said Lewis County coach Josh Hughes.
The junior kept going from there, scoring on a 3-yard run with just over four minutes left in the half for the 24-0 advantage. At the half, he had 163 yards and three touchdowns on eight carries. A 23-yard run sent Swartz past the 1,000-yard mark on the season.
“Landan does a good job staying in there behind his blocks. It looks like a big red wall sometimes coming at you over there. We’ve got toe-to-toe splits and we’re going to run the football right at you,” said Poynter. “Landan is just an awesome athlete.”
Bath County kept rolling in the third quarter, receiving the kick and driving 65 yards down the field to take a 30-0 lead. The eight-play drive was capped off by a 7-yard run from Swartz.
Landan Swartz picks up his fourth TD of the night, this time from 7 yards out. Bath County 32, Lewis County 0. 8:17 3Q. pic.twitter.com/gmInVT7kyc— Jared MacDonald (@JMacDonaldSport) October 7, 2017
The Wildcats added to the lead in the team’s next possession, scoring on a 7-yard run from Andy McFarland to start the running clock.
“We were trying to bear-crawl through the holes and we didn’t. They did a great job of basically wedge blocking us and moving up the field. They were cutting us at times that we couldn’t even get low,” said Hughes. “They’re just a simple offense and they blocked it so efficiently that we weren’t able to do our jobs.”
Andy McFarland 7-yard TD run makes it Bath County 40, Lewis County 0. 35.4 sec left in the third quarter. pic.twitter.com/Ah2jaBxdH0— Jared MacDonald (@JMacDonaldSport) October 7, 2017
The lone bright spot for Lewis County came after Lehn hobbled off the field. Garrett Applegate, the team’s starting running back, took over at quarterback and completed three passes, including a 26-yard touchdown pass to Tay Offut to avoid the shutout on their home field.
Garrett Applegate in at QB now and finds Tay Offut for the 26-yard score. Bath County 40, Lewis County 6. 5:43 4Q. pic.twitter.com/xK8YwozHI4— Jared MacDonald (@JMacDonaldSport) October 7, 2017
“Obviously you don’t want to get shutout,” said Hughes. “I feel like we dropped some balls and we could have been on the board earlier. A little confidence is good. A little fun at the end is good.”
Dalton Nelson added another Bath County touchdown in the closing minute on a 1-yard run, making it 47-6.
Swartz finished with 285 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries. Rogers ran for 54 yards on 12 carries, while also completing two passes for 45 yards. McFarland finished with 57 yards and one score on 12 carries.
Applegate finished with 25 yards on nine carries. He also completed 3-of-6 passes for 40 yards. Lehn completed 12-of-26 passes for 120 yards. Offut had eight receptions for 95 yards and Brayden Caudill had four receptions for 33 yards.
The win moves Bath County to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in district play. The Wildcats host Fleming County next Friday at 7:30 p.m. Both enter undefeated in the district.
“We scrimmaged Fleming up at Boyd County at the grid they had up there, and they put it on us pretty good, but Landan didn’t play and Lane Rogers didn’t play,” said Poynter. “We’ll roll the ball out there and see how it goes.”
Lewis County falls to 2-5 overall and 1-2 in the district. The Lions will host Russell next Friday.
“That’s what we told the kids, is that it’s not over,” said Hughes. “They’ve still got a chance to play in November. We’ve just got to regroup and get some wins.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.