WINCHESTER -- It took the Cardinals (7-4) just more than eight minutes -- and only 10 offensive plays -- to run out to what certainly seemed like a commanding lead Friday against Madison Central.
A trio of touchdown passes by Jordan Manley put Clark County in front 21-0.
The Indians (1-10), however, didn't give up.
"The thing you can say about our kids is that they keep fighting," Central coach Mark Scenters said. "That's been the theme all season."
Central scored 20-straight points and had an opportunity to take the lead in the third quarter.
But, Clark County got a pair of touchdown runs from Azariah Israel and pulled away for a 35-20 win in the opening round of the Class 6A Playoffs.
The Cardinals advance to face Oldham County next week at home in the district championship game.
"It's tough to watch our kids battle and battle and never get over the hump," Scenters said. "We battled our way back again tonight. We just came up short."
The comeback started late in the first quarter after the Indians came up with a fumble deep in Cardinal territory.
Wide receiver Zach Holbrook completed an 11-yard pass on the first play of the drive and two plays John Landsaw scored on a 10-yard run.
Central got the ball right back and put together a 10-play, 52-yard drive, capped by 15-yard pass from Nate Storie to Landsaw.
Clark County took a 21-14 lead into halftime.
A 32-yard catch by Ashton Hulberg got the Indians in Cardinal territory early in the third quarter. That drive resulted in a 8-yard TD catch by Hulberg.
On the two-point conversion, Joe Burton took the handoff and was headed for the end zone before the ball was stripped from his hands.
"The past couple of weeks, we haven't played or practiced like a one-win team," Scenters said. "A wounded army doesn't charge."
It took the Cardinals just two plays to push that lead back out to a more comfortable margin.
Israel got loose for a 29-yard TD after he also had a long kickoff return.
The Indians got back into the Clark County side of the field on their next drive, but that possession was slowed down by penalties.
Central got to the 37-yard line before being backed up twice.
The Indians got the ball three more times, but never got back in the red zone.
Israel added the final score of the game with 1:29 left on a 23-yard TD run.
Storie took over at quarterback last week after Canon Scenters suffered a season-ending knee injury.
The junior had not played the position since middle school, but was effective against Clark County. He completed 11-of-20 passes for 137 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also had 11 yards on nine rush attempts.
Hulberg had 66 yards on five catches. Landsaw had 45 yards on three receptions.
Central had only 60 yards rushing on 37 attempts.
The Indians were out-gained 399-216.
Central had two turnovers and finished the season with 34 giveaways (16 interceptions, 18 INTs).
Israel had 131 yards on 19 carries, while Manley was 12-of-24 for three TDs and one interception.
Dylan Gibson had two TD catches for Clark County.
and Dawson Gay had six catches for 126 yards and one touchdown.