Unfortunately for Paul Laurence Dunbar, Southwestern’s football team wasn’t ready to come to Lexington and leave with another loss.
The Warriors crushed Dunbar 50-0 in the first game of a doubleheader at Lafayette on Friday night.
It was a much more positive result for Southwestern than its last trip to Lexington. The Warriors lost on a last-second field goal at Lexington Catholic in the final game of the regular season last year.
“That was a tough one to do it there, that’s for sure,” said Southwestern Coach Larry French, who’s in his fourth year with the program.
Southwestern was not in danger of having a win ripped from its fingers as time expired Friday night. Junior speedster J.P. Vaught ripped off a 72-yard touchdown run on the Warriors’ first play from scrimmage 15 seconds into the contest. Joe Floyd, a senior quarterback, escaped a pack of Bulldogs to score on a 51-yard run just two and a half minutes later. The Warriors built a 36-0 lead with 4:05 left in the first half to put a running clock into effect.
The Warriors’ defense was arguably more impressive than the offense. It held Dunbar to five first downs and 118 yards of total offense. Dunbar committed seven turnovers, including four interceptions. Devin Strunk, a junior, had two picks and returned the first for a touchdown that helped put Southwestern ahead 22-0 before the first quarter ended.
French previously coached at Boyle County, which he coached to state titles in 2009 and 2010. Somerset doesn’t have as many trophies to show for its football prowess as Danville — aka “Titletown — but with the city schools, Pulaski County and Southwestern, it’s turned into one of Kentucky’s finest gridiron locales.
“It’s a good football town,” French said. “We’re still doing a lot of teaching. We’re still trying to recruit kids to get ’em to come out in our school building and convince them that football is fun to play. We’ve gotta continue to get the best athletes out in our school.”
It’s at least got Vaught, who might be the best athlete at the school. He won the 100- and 200-meter dashes as a sophomore at the Class 3A state track-and-field championships in May. He wasn’t heavily involved on Friday — he carried just twice for a total of 67 yards and recorded a single reception for no gain. He’ll be critical if Southwestern is going to make a deep run in 2017.
“He’s gotta get more touches,” French said. “I think that’s one of the things we’ve gotta work on as a staff. … He’s a threat to score any time he touches it.”
It was Dunbar’s season opener. The Bulldogs were shut out for the first time since 2014 and became the fourth Fayette County public school to not score in its first football game this season, joining Bryan Station, Frederick Douglass and Henry Clay (all three of those teams got on the board in their second games).
Patric Edwards led Southwestern with 101 yards and two TDs on 12 carries.