After a 0-2 start to the 2019 season, McCracken County let out a lot of frustrations on the scoreboard Friday night at Graves County's football stadium.

The Eagles, on the other hand, experienced plenty of frustrations as the Mustangs spoiled their home opener by a 65-26 margin.

It was McCracken's first win following opening losses to Paducah Tilghman and Bowling Green. Conversely, it was Graves' first loss after an opening win against Murray two weeks ago.

Coming out of a bye week, Graves County coach Nick Kemp was visibly upset by the lack of mental preparedness he witnessed from his squad.

"We were not ready to play that football game and I put that on myself," he said. "Just mentally, we were not in this game at all. They didn't want to be here tonight, event though I thought we had some fight in us on offense, the defense did not want to be on the field and it showed."

Junior running back Hunter Bradley, who has missed much of the young season due to back issues, was a dagger for the Mustangs. He knifed his way with 322 rushing yards off 28 carries and accounted for five touchdowns. McCracken County, as a team, amassed 601 total yards with 441 of that on the ground.

The Mustangs led 17-0 in the first quarter before Graves County (1-1) got on the scoreboard in the second frame with a 9-yard pass from quarterback John Ben Brown to Kyler Madding in the back corner of the end zone. After McCracken County quarterback Elijah Wheat connected with Franklin Hayes for a 54-yard score, the Eagles closed the gap to 23-14 at intermission with a 2-yard romp by Cody Goatley.

In the second half's start, both teams went toe-to-toe in scoring, but the Mustangs (1-2) managed to rip off 35 points in the third quarter with Bradley accounting for 21 of those points.

Nelson Browning cut things to 30-20 in that span when he snagged a John Ben Brown toss and tightroped the Eagles' sideline for 64 yards into the end zone. Later in that frame, Goatley ran in for his second TD of the night on a 20-yard barrel to compete a 40-yard drive.

Hayes led all receivers with 151 yards off four catches and three scores. Wheat threw for 160 yards on a 5-of-9 night.

Clint McKee led Graves County's rush attack with 90 yards out of its total 169 from the ground game. Brown was 13-of-30 for a near equal 170 yards with Browning getting three passes for 94 yards.

The Eagles have two more tough opponents to tackle before First District 5A play begins. They host Paducah Tilghman - a 38-20 victim to Mayfield Friday - this week, then head to War Memorial Stadium the following week for the annual "Battle of the Birds" meeting with the Cardinals.

Moving ahead, Kemp said preparation will be the word of the week at practice.

"We've definitely got to put this game behind us. I don't even know if there's anything to learn from it besides the fact you can't let down," he said.

"That's what happens when you have a good team like that and you let down. They're going to keep pounding you and keep pounding you.

"That's the thing that disappointed me," Kemp added. "We've got to be more prepared to play football."

McCracken County 17 6 35 7 -- 65

Graves County 0 14 12 0 -- 26


MC-Hunter Bradley 4 run, Ben Schofield kick; 7:45, 1Q.

MC-Schofield 20 FG; 1:15, 1Q.

MC-Jeremiah Hughes 33 run, Schofield kick; 0:15, 1Q.

GC-Kyler Madding 9 pass from John Ben Brown, Conner Thomas kick; 4:59, 2Q.

MC-Franklin Hayes 54 pass from Elijah Wheat, 2 pt. run failed; 1:39, 2Q.

GC-Cody Goatley 2 run, Thomas kick; 0:36, 2Q.

MC-Bradley 4 run, Schofield kick; 10:25, 3Q.

GC-Nelson Browning 64 pass from Brown, 2 pt. failed; 9:22, 3Q.

MC-Bradley 52 run, Schofield kick; 9:13, 3Q.

MC-Hayes 10 pass from Wheat, Schofield kick; 5:37, 3Q.

MC-Bradley 24 run, Schofield kick; 3:15, 3Q.

GC-Goatley 20 run, 2 pt. pass failed; 1:54; 3Q.

MC-Hayes 82 pass from Wheat, Schofield kick; 0:20, 3Q.

MC-Bradley 15 run, Schofield kick; 4:32, 4Q.


McCracken - First downs: 21. Rushing yards: 441. Passing yards: 160. Total yards: 601. Penalties-yards: 2-30. Fumbles-lost: 0.

Graves - First downs: 17. Rushing yards: 169. Passing yards: 170. Total yards: 339. Penalties-yards: 3-30. Fumbles-lost: 2-2.


Rushing: McCracken-Hunter Bradley: 28-322; Jeremiah Hughes: 11-99. Graves-Clint McKee: 13-90; Cody Goatley: 13-47.

Passing: McCracken-Elijah Wheat: 5-9-160, 3 TDs, 0 int. Graves-John Ben Brown: 13-30-170, 2 TDs, 0 int.

Receiving: McCracken-Franklin Hayes: 4-151. Graves-Nelson Browning: 3-94; Race Richards: 4-39; Kyler Madding: 2-27.

Records: McCracken County (1-2). Graves County (1-1).

Eric Walker is the sports editor for The Mayfield Messenger. He has also worked as a staff writer for the Messenger, editor for the Murray Ledger & Times, and in public relations. He is married with two sons.