Male's strategy against Scott County in their Class 6A state semifinal matchup Friday night was obvious: ground and pound.
That's exactly what the Bulldogs did, grinding out 255 yards rushing and pounding the host Cardinals 28-12.
Male (11-3) advances to play Trinity in the state championship game Dec. 4 in Bowling Green.
Host Scott County (10-4), attempting to reach the finals for the first time since 2004, gave up three touchdowns on the ground, and a fourth was a fumble recovery in the end zone after a 16-yard Male run to the 1-yard line.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Troy Denning (116 yards) and Jalon Kemp (100) each rushed for triple-digit yardage for Male. John Giddens added 44 yards and two scores.
Giddens' 42-yard run in the first quarter gave Male a 7-0 lead.
A Scott County field goal made it 7-3, but Male answered with two more touchdowns before the half. Clay Kesterson recovered Denning's fumble for a score, and Giddens added a 5-yard run with 43 seconds left to make it 21-3 at halftime.
Scott County didn't go away, scoring on a 14-yard Ben Lawler pass to Nick Smith and a safety to cut the lead to 21-12 at the end of the third quarter.
But Kemp sealed the Male victory by breaking off a 69-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter.
Marcus Hill led Scott County with 106 yards rushing, but the Cardinals committed three turnovers and Lawler was sacked five times.
Highlands 34, Harlan County 6 (5A): The Bluebirds are one win away from a four-peat.
Patrick Towles passed for 272 yards and three touchdowns, and the Highlands defense held host Harlan County to 7 yards through the air in the Class 5A semifinals.
Highlands (11-3) will play the Christian County-John Hardin winner for the state championship Dec. 4.
Towles threw touchdown passes of 43 and 32 yards to Daniel Gold, and he connected with Austin Sheehan on a 62-yard strike in the fourth quarter. Towles also ran for 49 yards.
Harlan County (13-1) got a 76-yard touchdown run from Marcus McMillan to trim the lead to 14-6 in the second quarter, but it was the Bears' only score of the night.
Mayfield 38, Beechwood 14 (A): Luke Gufy threw for 245 yards and accounted for three touchdowns, and Jonathan Jackson ran for 90 yards and a score to propel visiting Mayfield (14-0) to the Class A state championship game.
Mayfield will play Hazard in the finals on Dec. 3.
The biggest play of the night was made on special teams.
After Beechwood pulled within 24-14 in the third quarter on Corey Cruse's second touchdown catch from Michael Colosimo, Mayfield answered on the ensuing kickoff. Devin Jones took the kick and went 96 yards for a score to seal Mayfield's invitation to the state finals.
Newport Central Catholic 42, Corbin 8 (2A): The first half belonged to Newport Catholic quarterback Brady Hightchew. The second belonged to running back Chris Kelley.
The result: another trip to the Class 2A state finals for Newport Catholic (13-2), which will face Owensboro Catholic on Dec. 3.
Hightchew ran for two touchdowns — including a 48-yarder — and passed for one to give the Thoroughbreds a 21-0 lead at the half.
Kelley took over from there, scoring on touchdown runs of 81 and 39 yards in the third quarter to ice it.
Corbin (12-3) avoided the shutout on Taylor Waddle's 74-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.