The Harrison County football alumni team only put seven points on the board Saturday night in Paris but thanks to a stout defense and some booming Rodney Dryden punts that was all they needed to defeat arch rival Bourbon County 7-2.
The Bourbon County team, which was a combination of Paris High School and Bourbon County High School called the Pride, scored first in the game on a punt attempt by the Harrison County team which did not make it out of the end zone.
The two-point safety with 11:51 left in the second quarter was to be the only points scored by the Pride in the game.
The score also caused the Harrison County alums to change from a rugby style punting scheme to the regular punt which allowed protection from the rush in the variety of football.
According to the rules of the alumni game, the defense could not rush a conventional punt and the number of defensive players allowed to rush the passer was limited to four. This rule too was to play a role in the game at a later time.
After the Sean Espinola kick that followed the safety, the Harrison County defense led by Josh Ashbrook and Leo Kearns held the Pride on downs forcing the Bourbon County team to punt the ball back.
Paul Warford received the punt and dashed around the right side to the Pride 30-yard line where Khalid Abdullah pulled him down from behind causing a fumble.
The loose ball was grabbed by Harrison County’s Kyle Gaffney and carried the rest of the way for six points for the Thorobreds alumni team.
Chris Marsh’s extra point was good and with six and one half minutes to play in the first half, the score was 7-2 in favor of the visiting Thorobreds.
The game, from this point forward, became a defensive battle.
Thorobreds quarterback Van Isaac was able to connect on a couple of short passes to Espinola and Derrick Dye, but the constant pressure put on by the Pride defense, especially Abdullah, did not allow Isaac time to set up.
The Harrison County ground game with Kearns and Jamar Talbott running the ball was able to move the ball enough for Dryden’s punts to keep the Bourbon County bunch in poor field position.
The Pride team did threaten early in the fourth period following a fumbled exchange from center to quarterback, which gave them the ball on the Thorobreds’ 30 yard line. The home team drove the ball to the 10 yard line but an interception by Espinola in the end zone ended the threat.
Coach Ray Graham’s defense gave up very little yardage in the game despite being on the field for extended periods of time due to the offense’s inability to move the ball.
Abdullah and quarterback Chris Griggs attempted to run the ball wide to take advantage of their speed but Rumeal Lewis twice made tackles for losses making for third and long yardage situations.
The last drive for Bourbon County’s Pride was aided by a penalty against Harrison County for rushing too many men with only one minute and 30 seconds left.
But on the next play, Bourbon County was penalized for illegal procedure negating the previous gain.
Griggs was sacked trying to pass to end the last series for the Pride and Harrison County ran out the clock for the victory.
The alumni series now stands at 2-0 in favor of the Thorobreds.
A portion of the game’s proceeds were given to Paris High School along with another portion going to St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis.