Bluebirds' high-flying offense grounds Royals
FORT THOMAS | Mason County is learning how to play fast offensively. Highlands has been doing just that, and doing it well, for some time.
That was the difference Friday night as the host Bluebirds' frenetic hurry-up offense rolled up a 61-3 victory on Friday night.
Highlands senior quarterback Donovan McCoy threw for 390 yards and six touchdown passes in three quarters as his team outgained Mason County 561 yards to 131 and set the running clock in motion midway through the third quarter.
“I kept thinking tonight that this is like when we come up here for 7-on-7,” Royals coach David Buchanan said of Highlands' offensive pace. “It's just boom, boom, boom, one play after another after another.”
Rashon Nelson ran for 46 yards on 13 carries, and Jake O'Mara threw for 78 yards to lead the Royals offense.
Mason County got its only points of the evening on Jacob Tompkins' 30-yard field goal just over a minute and a half into the second quarter.
The hosts, celebrating homecoming, had no such trouble keeping the scoreboard operator occupied.
And they did it mostly through the air, running the ball only three times in the first half, after featuring a ground-based attack most of the way early this season.
The Bluebirds got the ball first when they recovered an onside kick to open the game, and promptly found themselves in fourth-and-10 after three straight McCoy incompletions.
But McCoy and Nick True bailed Highlands out when they found space in Mason County's secondary for a 21-yard gain over the middle, and five plays later, McCoy scrambled across the goal line from seven yards out for a 6-0 lead.
Jensen Feggins and Jac Collinsworth were then the recipients of two McCoy scoring tosses before Tompkins got the Royals on the scoreboard.
Highlands responded with touchdown receptions by Ryan Greene and Luke Turner for a 34-3 halftime lead.
That margin after two quarters was preserved when the Royals, driving at the end of the half after Carson Fearis picked McCoy, lost a fumble on the final play of the half at Highlands' 44-yard line.
McCoy and True hooked up for scoring passes for the Bluebirds' first two scores of the second half, the second one giving Highlands a 48-3 lead and thus setting the running clock in motion with 7:21 left in the third stanza.
Bluebirds senior back Ryan Donovan, who ran for 129 yards, all after the outcome had long since been settled, punched across the goal line twice from short range to set the final count.
Mason County, for the first time this year, had someone other than O'Mara take snaps at quarterback, as freshman signal-callers Caleb Habermel and Kane Neal each got in for one play each on the final two snaps of the game.
“They took a snap at Highlands,” Buchanan said. “They got to run the ball. Obviously you'd like to have had it go better, but I just think there's a lot of things you get from this experience that help you down the road.”
The Royals' two-year contract with the five-time defending state champions came to a conclusion Friday night, but the mentality established by the two games – which Highlands won by an aggregate score of 132-11 – is positive, from Buchanan's view.
“We've gone toe-to-toe with some good people here. How many times have we backed down? Zero,” Buchanan said. “I know that the score hasn't been what we wanted every time, but I don't think our kids have backed down once … you can say I'm nuts for playing Highlands, but one thing you can't say is we're scared. Obviously we're not. And I think our kids have that mentality, they ain't scared of anybody either.”
Mason County hosts East Carter next week in its Class AAA, District 6 opener.
“Sure, I'd love to have a better record, but the record is by definition the past,” Buchanan said. “I think we've got a good football team, we're looking forward, and you can slice it however you want, we're 1-4, or we're 0-0 in the district. What matters is what we're gonna do from here, and I'm excited about that.”
Mason County 0 3 0 0 – 3
Highlands 20 14 21 6 – 61
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