48-12 win over Mercer shows Pioneers are back

September 08, 2003|MIKE MARSEE

HARRODSBURG - The good times are back at Harrodsburg.

The Pioneers seldom enjoy themselves more than when they're beating Mercer County, so they had to be practically giddy Friday night.

But this whipping of their crosstown rival was good for more than mere bragging rights. Harrodsburg's 48-12 win over Mercer was the biggest indication yet that the program is on the rise again.

"It means that Harrodsburg's on its way back," coach Terry Yeast said. "You can see the pride, not only on the field, but you can see it in the stands. The community's excited about Harrodsburg football again, and the kids are feeding off it."


The host Pioneers improved to an unlikely 3-0 - matching their 2002 win total - by pummeling Mercer (1-2) into submission with an offense that rolled up 415 yards and a defense that allowed the Scotties only one offensive score.

"We expected to beat them by more," said Harrodsburg running back Mark Dunn, who scored three of the Pioneers' seven touchdowns.

Maybe so, but there weren't many others who would have expected it.

Duane Hammons didn't. The Mercer coach said Harrodsburg played far better Friday than in its two previous games.

"That's the first time Harrodsburg's played," Hammons said. "They hadn't really shown up until tonight."

Yeast agreed with that.

"I've just been waiting for us to put one together, and nothing's sweeter than to do it against the big rival school," Yeast said.

It was Harrodsburg's highest point total in 18 games, and it was the highest point total for either team in the Harrodsburg-Mercer series - in which the home team has won the last five games - since the Pioneers won 49-0 in 1995.

The Pioneers showcased a diverse offense that proved they could do more than put the ball in Dunn's hands. Dunn was the game's leading rusher with 99 yards, and he caught two passes for 115 yards, but he was also effective as a decoy for Harrodsburg's other backs.

While Dunn was drawing the defense's attention, speedy freshmen Cory Jackson and Brandon Brown and junior fullback Shane Webb combined to rush for 162 yards and scored one touchdown each.

"It's a lot easier on the team," Dunn said. "This game set an example. More teams are going to start to respect those guys."

"It's fortunate that we've got two young freshmen with great speed who can go the distance at any time," Yeast said. "People just can't key on Mark any more."

But Hammons said he's glad he's seen the last of Dunn from the sideline.

"I said four years ago that I didn't want to face him for four years, and now he's done and we never have to look at him again," the Mercer coach said.

Harrodsburg abandoned its two-quarterback system, as Mariqus Brown ran the offense for the entire game. He completed five of 10 passes for 146 yards, and Yeast said he will be the Pioneers' quarterback for the foreseeable future.

Jackson got Harrodsburg's first score when he broke free for a 50-yard run late in the first quarter, and Webb made it 14-0 by scoring on a 29-yard run early in the second.

Mercer pulled within 14-12 with two touchdowns by Andrew McCloud, first on an 86-yard kickoff return and then on a 15-yard run after Jordan Lyons recovered an onside kick.

But the Pioneers answered with three touchdowns in the final 6:05 of the first half, scoring on a 60-yard pass play from Mariqus Brown to Dunn and on runs by both players and racking up 164 yards in the three drives.

"I'm extremely proud of how our offense kept clicking," Yeast said.

Hammons wasn't so happy with the Mercer offense, which averaged just 2.9 yards per play and has netted just 428 yards in three games.

Until their final series, the Scotties had only 25 yards that weren't generated by McCloud.

The passing game remained no threat, as Michael Bottoms went 2-for-12 with three interceptions and is now 6-for-33 on the season. Mercer converted just two of 12 third-down plays.

"They got us in third-and-long and we weren't able to throw the ball," Hammons said. "We have to be able to complete on third-and-long, and we have to get ourselves in third-and-short situations."

"I think our offense is still getting better each week, but they're going to put four or five people on McCloud, and I know that."

Sims honored

Harrodsburg honored Genie Sims, a former coach, athletic director and administrator at the school and longtime radio play-by-play man for the Pioneers, by naming the press box at Alvis Johnson Field in his honor in a surprise halftime ceremony.

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