NEWPORT, Ky. - Carroll County decided to play its best game of the year at the right time, defeating Newport 29-21 in the first round of the KHSAA Class 2A State Playoffs on Friday.

Carroll's defense limited Newport to just 194 yards of total offense, forced three interceptions and a fumble and Caleb Guenthner recorded three sacks.

The offense, meanwhile, totaled 331 yards, including 282 on the ground in picking up Carroll's first playoff win in 10 years.

"Our guys earned it tonight," Carroll head coach Mike Weedman said. "I'm just so proud of this team. I've been involved with a lot of great teams here at Carroll County but this one might be the best. They just play so well together and for them to come through the way they did tonight was just amazing."

After trading punts early in the first quarter, Carroll County struck first with 3:03 to play. Jacob Wise shook free for a 28-yard touchdown run but the early lead did not last long. Newport's Charlie Mullins found Paul Price on a 12-yard pass play with only 6.4 seconds remaining. The extra point was good, tying things up at 7-7 at the quarter break.

Wise struck again early in the second quarter, running 10 yards for a score to help the Panthers regain the lead at 13-7. That score would remain all the way to halftime but not before Carroll's defense did some damage of its own.

Guenthner, a junior defensive end, led a vicious pass rush attack throughout the entire quarter ultimately leading to Mullins lobbing an interception to Blake Newby with 2:06 to go. For Newby, it was the first of two picks on the night.

"Getting back there and flushing Mullins out was huge for us," Guenthner said. "But had it not been for the entire defensive unit and their coverage it would have been impossible to get back there."

"Newport is such a big team and they are very athletic," Weedman said. "Our strategy in the game defensively was to bring as much pressure as we could with our guys up front and they did that the entire night. When we can do that we are very tough to handle."

Up by just six to start the second half, Carroll County (6-5) added cushion that proved to be instrumental the rest of the game. After chewing up nearly six minutes on the clock, Taylor Byrd sent a 35-yard field goal right down the middle, helping Carroll out to a two-score lead at 16-7.

Even when Newport (5-6) scored late in the third on a Terrance Brown run, the Wildcats still found themselves down 16-14 heading into the third quarter. For Weedman, that field goal prevented what could have been a disastrous second half collapse.

"That kick was big," Weedman said. "Taylor missed a couple kicks tonight but I thought each of his attempts tonight were all good kicks. But the one we needed the most he came through with and it proved to be huge and helped us keep the lead and momentum in our favor."

Quarterback John Michael Adams found Newby on a risky 28-yard pass play for a touchdown with 8:09 left in the fourth quarter to push Carroll out to a 22-14 advantage and then let the defense kick it back into gear.

Guenthner's final two sacks came in the last minutes of the game and Newby's second pick of Mullins at the 7:07 mark ruined what looked to be a potential scoring drive for Newport. With 1:04 left, Keifer McIntyre punched one in from one yard out, putting Carroll in the driver's seat at 29-14.

Newport attempted to make things interesting on the ensuing possession as Price's 75-yard kickoff return and the extra point brought the Wildcats back to within eight. But Newport's onside kick following a holding penalty was pounced on by Carroll, which then took two knees en route to preserving a 29-21 victory.

The win broke a 10-game postseason losing streak for Carroll County, which had not scored a playoff win since beating Bardstown Bethlehem 34-31 in 2003.

The Panthers now set their sights on next Friday's district semifinal matchup against top-seeded Gallatin County, which dismantled the Panthers earlier this season, 48-13 on Oct. 4. However the Panthers feel like the momentum is in their favor and are more than ready for their second round matchup with their archrival Wildcats.

"It's going to be a different story this time," Weedman said. "As a team, we have a lot of respect for Gallatin's players and coaches because they are a very good team. But we know that the first time around we did not play our best for whatever reason. This time we understand what's at stake and we know what we need to do in terms of executing. We'll get back to work this week and be ready to go in Warsaw on Friday."

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CLASS 2A DISTRICT PLAYOFFS

FRIDAY'S CARROLL CO. STATISTICS

at Newport

CARROLL CO. 29, NEWPORT 21



CARROLL CO. 7 6 3 13 - 29

NEWPORT 7 0 7 7 - 21



SCORING SUMMARY

First Quarter

CC - Jacob Wise, 28-yard run (Taylor Byrd kick), 3:03.

NEW - Paul Price, 12-yard pass from Charlie Mullins (Oscar Franco kick), 0:06.4.

Second Quarter

CC - Wise, 4-yard run (kicked failed), 8:35.

Third Quarter

CC - Byrd, 35-yard field goal, 6:07.

NEW - Terrence Brown, 16-yard run (Franco kick), 3:43.

Fourth Quarter

CC - Blake Newby, 28-yard pass from John Michael Adams (kick failed), 8:09.

CC - Keifer McIntyre, 1-yard run, (Byrd kick), 1:04

NEW - Price, 75-yard kickoff return, (Franco kick), :47.6

CC New

First Downs 11 8

Rushing Yards 282 67

Comp-Att-Int 2-4-0 10-22-3

Pass Yards 49 127

Total Yards 331 194

Penalties-Yards 7-65 7-75

Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING - Carroll Co., Jacob Wise (12-106, 2 TD); Blake Newby (16-84); Keifer McIntyre (18-80, TD); John Michael Adams (4-15); Matt Bartley (1-(-3)); Newport, Dominick Joseph (8-48, TD); Tyree Bolden (6-35); Paul Price (2-11); Charlie Mullins (7-(-27)).

PASSING - Carroll Co, John Michael Adams (2-4-0, 49 yards, TD); Newport, Charlie Mullins (10-22-3, 127 yards, TD).

RECEIVING - Carroll Co., Blake Newby (1-28, TD); Jacob Wise (1-21); Newport, Jashawn Stanley (3-33); Paul Price (2-30, TD); Brian Burton (1-24); Tyree Bolden (1-16); David Lynman (1-14); Terrance Brown (2-10).

MISSED FIELD GOALS - None