FLEMINGSBURG – Landan Swartz didn’t have to touch the ball much in Bath County’s 63-28 win over Lewis County.
But on Friday in Flemingsburg, the ball was in his hands most of the night.
Swartz carried the ball six times for 265 yards and three touchdowns against the Lions, and the senior running back followed the performance by powering both the Wildcats’ offense and defense Friday with three rushing touchdowns and three interceptions as Bath County shut out Fleming County, 32-0.
“All these other kids did other things, too. Landan is awesome. These guys block for him. Did you see our quarterback run the ball? You see that No. 12 [Lane Rogers] run the counter?” said Bath County coach Johnny Poynter. “Defensively we shut that team out. It was a team win.”
Turnovers have been costly in Fleming County’s five losses entering Friday’s game, and the contest with the Wildcats was no different. The Panthers turned the ball over five times on the night, starting on their first possession of the game.
After taking the opening kick and driving to the Bath County 20-yard line, Tanner Weaver fumbled and the Wildcats recovered. They were able to cap off the ensuing drive with a 17-yard touchdown run from Swartz for a 6-0 lead with 6:22 to play in the opening quarter.
“We felt like that first drive we kind of came out and caught them off guard. We were driving the ball down the field and really had things rolling, then all of a sudden we fumble and you feel that energy kind of shift from sideline to sideline,” said Fleming County coach Bill Spencer.
“All night long it just felt like we couldn’t get out of our own way on offense. We would string a few plays together, then we’d get a penalty or we’d turn the ball over. Those kinds of things,” added Spencer. “It felt like we moved the ball all night long, but we just couldn’t sustain it and get in the end zone.”
The Bath County defense forced the Panthers to turn the ball over on downs in their next possession after driving to Bath County’s 38. The Wildcats got the ball and used a 10-play drive that started in the first quarter and ended in the second to take a 12-0 lead. Swartz ran the ball in from the 8-yard line for the score.
Down two touchdowns to start the second half, Fleming County was able to force a three-and-out, but an interception by Swartz on a pass from Jonathan Maher gave the Wildcats back the ball on the Fleming County 28.
“Defensively, we’ve gotten better. People were laughing at us last year, making fun of us. We came out here last year against them and they scored and ran up and down the field like we weren’t even out here. People were making fun of us and laughing at us. We took that to heart a little bit and said, ‘Hey boys, we’re going to make our defense better,’” said Poynter. “That’s what we did.”
Swartz carried the ball five yards on the next play and then ran in a 23-yard touchdown to give Bath County a 19-0 lead. He picked off Maher again on the Panthers’ next possession and it turned into another touchdown. Lane Rogers finished the scoring drive with a 1-yard touchdown run for a 25-0 advantage at the end of the third.
“Defensively, you know, Swartz was Swartz. We would stop him, stop him, stop him, then he’d bust one. I thought our kids battled hard and played hard on defense. It’s just a tough offense to stop. They run it really well,” said Spencer. “If we would have got a couple touchdowns on offense, or at least one early on, I think it may have made a difference.”
Bath County added another touchdown with 7:31 to play when quarterback Ryan Leach hit James Fraley with a 27-yard touchdown pass to make it 32-0.
Swartz added his third interception on Fleming County’s next possession. He finished with 161 yards on 29 carries, while Rogers had 10 carries for 92 yards and Leach had eight for 60 yards to go along with two completions for 41 yards.
“You could tell out here we were hungry. We remembered what happened over here to us three years ago when they rubbed our nose in it like we were trash,” said Poynter. “We were hungry.”
Bath County moves to 6-2 overall and 3-1 in Class 3A, District 5 play. The Wildcats will host Russell in a 7:30 p.m. game next Friday. The Red Devils beat Lewis County on Friday, 42-0, to move to 4-0 in district play.
Fleming County falls to 3-6 overall and 2-2 in district play. The Panthers are scheduled to close out the regular season at home against Pendleton County, who is 0-4 in district play, next week at 7:30 p.m.
WILDCATS 32, PANTHERS 0
(BC) Swartz 17-yard run (Kick failed) 6:22
(BC) Swartz 8-yard run (Two-point conversion failed) 9:36
(BC) Swartz 23-yard run (Walden kick) 8:02
(BC) Roger 1-yard run (Kick failed) 3:19
(BC) Leach 27-yard pass to Fraley (Walden kick) 7:31
Records: Bath County (6-2, 3-1), Fleming County (3-6, 2-2)