Kearney quarterback Ian Acosta fakes a handoff to running back Garrett Laughlin in a jamboree scrimmage in August. Laughlin, a senior, rushed for 247 yards and three touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 42-14 home win over Winnetonka Friday, Sept. 20. 

KEARNEY — Senior Garrett Laughlin has shown to be an effective running back during the 2019 season, a constant of sorts for the Bulldogs.

Laughlin broke out for a career night in his most recent effort.

Laughlin rushed for 247 yards and three touchdowns to help the Bulldogs to a much needed 42-14 conference victory over Winnetonka on Friday, Sept. 20, at TDR Auto Plaza Activity Center.

Averaging 7 1/2 yards per carry, Laughlin wore out the Griffins’ defense and helped the Bulldogs (2-2) snap a two-game skid.

“We just ran it up the gut and established the running game before anything else,” Laughlin said. “I have to give credit where it’s due. My offensive line just created wide open holes.”

“He’s a workhorse and wants that workload on his shoulders,” Bulldogs coach Josh Gray said. “He’s definitely stepped up and has really matured over the last four weeks.”

Laughlin, who finished with 33 carries, ran for two of his three touchdowns in a 21-point second quarter to guide Kearney to a comfortable 28-0 lead at the break.

In holding Winnetonka scoreless in the first half, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 7-0 lead on an Ian Acosta short touchdown run midway through the first quarter before Laughlin dialed up TD runs of 15 and 54 yards, and Acosta added another rushing score in the second frame.

Laughlin’s final touchdown run came on a 20-yard run one minute into the fourth quarter. Minutes later, sophomore Logan Arellano scored on a nine-yard run to push the lead to 42-7.

For Kearney, coming off consecutive losses to Staley and Platte County, it’s a confidence booster heading into its homecoming game against Grandview (0-3), which was moved up to a 5:30 p.m. kickoff on Friday, Sept. 27 due to potential storms.

“It was a huge confidence booster,” Laughlin said. “We got our feet back under us and now we can get rolling with what we’ve got. Those two losses kind of made a point where we need to work hard all week long to get that run game established.”

Sports Editor Adam Burns can be reached at adam.burns@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6643.​

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