When designed quarterback runs failed, the Kenton Ridge High School football team let Dylan Lemen improvise.
The sophomore quarterback scored two touchdowns on runs of 7 and 29 yards and threw for another score as the Cougars pulled away in the second half to beat host Graham 42-14 at Dallas Stadium on Friday night.
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Senior running back Jaden Jenkins also had two rushing touchdowns, junior Jared Armstrong rushed for a touchdown and senior Nasiim McKay caught a touchdown pass as the Cougars improved to 4-1.
The Cougars led 14-7 at the half, but scored 22 points in the third quarter to pull away for the victory.
Lemen scrambled for long gains out of the pocket, setting up multiple touchdowns with his legs on broken plays in the third quarter, Kenton Ridge head coach Joel Marratta said.
“They did a great job game-planning because the designed runs where he was to run the ball, they shut that down,” he said. “When he saw an open window and took off, good things happened.”
The Cougars opened the second half with a touchdown drive as Lemen found McKay to make it 21-7.
Graham’s next possession ended in a bad snap, giving the Cougars great field position. Lemen then scored from 7 yards out to make it 28-7.
On the Falcons’ next possession, Kenton Ridge’s Carson Jones tackled a Graham player in the end zone for a safety, making it 30-7. Lemen scrambled for a 29-yard touchdown on the Cougars next play from scrimmage to make it 36-7.
“We made some mistakes, they made some mistakes,” Marratta said, “but their mistakes hurt them a little bit more than ours did. They gave us some pretty good field position at times and we capitalized. They have some special athletes and they didn’t play full strength tonight. They’re a good program.”
The Cougars open Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division play on Sept. 29, hosting conference newcomer Johnathan Alder (4-1) — a perennial playoff team. The Pioneers beat Indian Lake 35-34 in overtime on Friday.
“They don’t get any easier and we knew that,” Marratta said. “Hopefully we can have a great week of practice and play Week 11 football against a Week 11 team.”
Graham’s Austin Brayton and Tyler Bailey each scored rushing touchdowns for the Falcons (1-4), who dropped their third straight game.
The Falcons played without senior quarterback Gage Braun, who injured his knee in their Week 3 game at Lehman Catholic. Braun was one of the leading passers in the conference through three games, with more than 530 yards and six touchdowns.
Receiver Caleb Horner moved to quarterback for the Falcons, who relied heavily on their running attack. Brayton rushed for 139 yards on 29 carries.
“It was close ball game at the half,” first-year coach Shane Cahill said. “Those punt snaps killed us. We just have to make plays. Like I told them at halftime, we’re one step away from everything. We just have to keep competing.”
The Falcons (1-4) host Indian Lake (3-2) next week in its first CBC Mad River Division game.
“We’ll see how we respond after this week,” Cahill said. “We’ve got a big film session (today) and we’re going to have a gut check talk. We’ll see how we respond. We have to figure some things out and we’ve got to compete.”