Paducah Tilghman's run game has long been its bread-and-butter.
And, in Saturday's 47-43 win over McCracken County at Marquette Stadium, that was no different.
Damien Ford's 23 carries for 224 yards and four rushing touchdowns was the difference for the Blue Tornado, who for the first time in McCracken's seven-year history beat the Mustangs in back-to-back seasons.
"I wouldn't really call it a rivalry," Ford said. "Now, Tilghman versus Mayfield, that's a rivalry. This is a game."
Damien Ford had 23 carries for 224 yards and four touchdowns for Tilghman. pic.twitter.com/cj4V2ra3Oh— Al Willman (@AlWillmanSports) August 25, 2019
Tilghman came out quickly, scoring twice in its first two drives.
After a six-play, 65-yard drive - capped by Jayden Freeman's 1-yard run - the Blue Tornado recovered the ensuing kickoff and scored in four more plays, on Damien Ford's 4-yard run. With 7:35 left in the first, the Blue Tornado led 14-0.
The Mustangs stalled in the red zone on the following drive, but Ben Schofield's 34-yard field goal put McCracken on the board. With 5:13 left, it was 14-3.
A high snap on a punt attempt set up a prime scoring opportunity for McCracken County at the Tilghman 7.
And the Mustangs took advantage with Hunter Bradley's 5-yard run on third-and-goal. With 48.4 seconds left in the quarter, it was 14-10.
Tilghman added to its lead early in the second quarter. A pair of big plays gave the Blue Tornado a first-and-goal at the McCracken 7. Ford then punched in his second 4-yard touchdown of the half. With 10:47 until halftime, it was 21-10.
"(I was seeing) green grass," Ford said, asked what he saw each time he touched the ball. "Open space. Opportunities."
The Mustangs took the lead on a 2-yard run from Bradley. With 5:22 left, it was 23-21.
That score held going into the half.
Freeman put Tilghman back ahead with a 40-yard pick-six on the first drive of the second half. With 11:16 left in the third, it was 28-23.
"We've prepared for this since Day 1 (of the offseason," he said. "All summer, we've been preparing for this game. And also, we played as a team tonight. I'm proud of my team tonight."
Ford's third touchdown run, a 14-yard scamper, put Tilghman ahead 34-23 with 3:45 left.
His fourth, a 38-yard dash to make it 40-23, put Tilghman up three scores with 11:50 left in the game.
"We had two rallies, one at the end of the half and and one in the second half," said McCracken County coach Marc Clark, whose Mustangs scored a pair of touchdowns in the final 30 seconds, to attempt a brief comeback. "We just made too many critical mistakes. Early on, we kind of dug ourselves in a hole. Hats off to their team. They made plays when they had to."
McCracken coach Marc Clark on the loss. pic.twitter.com/abaZg5Xres— Al Willman (@AlWillmanSports) August 25, 2019
McCracken County 10 13 0 20 - 43
Paducah Tilghman 14 7 13 13 - 47
PT: Jayden Freeman 1 run (Shelby Nickal kick), 7-0, 9:05 1Q
PT: Damien Ford 4 run (Nickal kick), 14-0, 7:35 1Q
MC: FG Ben Schofield 34, 14-3, 5:13 1Q
MC: Hunter Bradley 5 run (Schofield kick), 14-10, 48.4 1Q
PT: Ford 4 run (Nickal kick), 21-10, 10:47 2Q
MC: Franklin Hayes 14 pass from Elijah Wheat (run failed), 21-16, 9:11 2Q
MC: Bradley 2 run (Schofield kick), 23-21, 5:22 2Q
PT: Jayden Freeman 40 interception return (Nickal kick), 28-23, 11:16 3Q
PT: Ford 14 run (kick failed), 34-23, 3:45 3Q
PT: Ford 38 run (run failed), 40-23, 11:50 4Q
MC: Hayes 16 pass from Wheat (Schofield kick), 40-30, 7:47 4Q
PT: Freeman 2 run (Nickal kick), 47-30, 3:32 4Q
MC: Hayes 6 pass from Wheat (Schofield kick), 47-37, 37.6 4Q
MC: Hunter Bradley 16 pass from Wheat (kick failed), 47-43, 25.8 4Q
Paducah Tilghman: Damien Ford 23-224, Jayden Freeman 8-38, Cam Marshall 8-27, Jonathan George 6-15, Darrian Scarbrough 1-13, Chris Allen 1-0. McCracken County: Hunter Bradley 27-187, Elijah Wheat 5-8, Elijah Holland 1-5, Jeremiah Hughes 3-3, Franklin Hayes 1-1.
Paducah Tilghman: Cam Marshall 2-7-60-0. McCracken County: Elijah Wheat 11-29-133-1.
Paducah Tilghman: Jayden Freeman 2-60. McCracken County: Hunter Bradley 4-68, Franklin Hayes 4-40, Jeremiah Hughes 2-17, Zander Mayes 1-8.
Paducah Tilghman 1-0, McCracken County 0-1.