Kewanis Kennedy blocked two punts, a field goal, and recovered two fumbles, one of which he returned for a touchdown in Trigg County’s 45-7 whipping of Caldwell County Friday in Princeton.
"He sealed it for us early. His blocks set the tone for the game and were the difference," Higgins said of his senior defensive end.
All three of Kennedy’s blocks came in the first half, with the two blocked punts leading to Wildcat scores.
"Coach (Wynn) Harris has been working with me on how to take the ball off his foot instead of jumping toward the kicker. It worked," Kennedy said.
The Wildcats took advantage of the breakdown in Caldwell County’s special teams, especially their punting game to take early command of the district contest.
Trigg also welcomed back leading rusher Steven Wadlington, who only carried the football seven times in the past two games because of a hip pointer suffered against Reidland Sept. 10.
Wadlington carried 11 times for 211 yards and three touchdowns as the Wildcats had 389 rushing yards in the contest.
The Wildcats also got a strong rushing performance from quarterback Tommy Woodall, who carried 10 times for 131 yards – the first Trigg signal-caller in over 20 years to top the century mark rushing.
"We dominated them offensively and on special teams and scored on nearly every possession," Higgins said.
Woodall rushed for 49 yards and Wadlington caught a 22-yard pass to set up Trigg’s first score, a 35-yard field goal by Jacob Wadlington, the first of his career. He also was a perfect 6-of-6 on extra point kicks.
Kennedy’s first blocked punt came on Caldwell’s first drive and set up Wadlington’s first touchdown run, a 27-yarder up the middle for a 10-0 Wildcat lead with 4:14 left in the quarter.
Caldwell County answered with a 9-play, 65-yard drive that was capped by a Cameron Williams 12-yard catch in the right corner of the end zone from Donovan Dame.
However, the Wildcats had an immediate answer as Wadlington took a toss from Woodall and raced 91 yards down the right sideline to put the Wildcats ahead 17-7 with 11:28 left in the first half.
A botched snap on a Caldwell County punt had the Wildcats knocking on the door on their next drive, but Woodall’s pass intended for Jake Wallace near the end zone was picked off by Williams.
The Tigers gave the football right back as Allen Wadlington fumbled near midfield, and Steven Wadlington recovered for the Wildcats.
Three plays later, it was Trigg County’s Wadlington that ran 52 yards for his third touchdown of the night to put the Wildcats ahead 24-7 with 4:17 left in the half.
On Caldwell County’s next possession, Kennedy again found his way around the Tiger front to block his second punt of the half. It was scooped up by Frank Russell and returned 35 yards for the score and a 31-7 lead with 2:52 left in the half.
Kennedy got one final shot in at the Tigers, blocking a 30-yard field goal attempt just before halftime to preserve Trigg’s 24-point lead at intermission.
Caldwell County took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched down the field, converting twice on third down and picking up two 15-yard penalties against the Wildcats.
However, the Wildcat defense stiffened at the 10-yard line and Dame’s fourth down pass from the four was incomplete.
The Wildcats needed just six plays to cover 96 yards and put the final nail in Caldwell’s coffin when Woodall found Jamaal Boyd all alone down the left side for a 28-yard touchdown pass.
Trigg’s final score came when Kennedy scooped up a Caldwell fumble deep in their end of the field and returned it six yards to push the lead to 45-7 with 9:04 left.
Trigg County rolled up 431 yards of offense, including 389 yards rushing on just 28 carries, or 13.8 yards per carry.
The Wildcats played without the services of lineman and linebacker Pierre Grubbs (knee) and his replacement, R.T. Bacon (hand). Higgins moved defensive tackle Jeff Adams to the offensive side of the football and like what he saw.
"He did a good job on the line. We needed him to fill in since we were short at the position," Higgins said.
Woodall was 3-of-8 passing for 42 yards. He had a touchdown pass and was picked off once.
Caldwell County had 236 yards of offense, but only 97 in the second half.
They did have 17 first downs in the contest, helped by an 8-for-15 showing on third down conversions.
"We’ve been losing downs more this year," Higgins said. "We were dominant with that in the past, keeping our opponents around 20-percent."
After Friday, Wildcat opponents are converting 35.5-percent on third down.
But Tigers were 0-of-4 in the red zone and had three turnovers.
Allen Wadlington was Caldwell’s leading rusher with 46 yards on 13 carries and never found the open field to display his speed.
As a defensive unit, the Wildcat defense tackled Caldwell runners for zero or negative yardage on 12 of their 44 carries.
Trigg County improved to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in district play, while Caldwell County dropped to 1-4 and 0-2 in the district, seeing their chances for a playoff spot slipping away as the Tigers visit Fort Campbell Friday.
EXTRA POINTS – Higgins improved to 5-1 in his career against Caldwell County, and is the only Wildcat head coach who has a winning record against the Tigers…The Wildcats finished 2-1 in September, their fifth straight winning record in the month…Jacob Wadlington’s 35-yard field goal tied as the seventh longest in school history. "Jacob has been more than solid for in the kicking game this year," Higgins said…Caldwell County still leads the all-time series with Trigg County 34-16-1.