Rodney Robertson (5) looks for some running room.
Rockets run out of gas
PRINCETON, Ky. Aug. 25 -- The Rockets ran out of big plays and then ran out of gas in the third quarter as arch-rival Caldwell County broke a 21-point halftime tie to win going away 48-21 Friday at Princeton.
It was the Rockets' opening game of the season while Caldwell won for the first time in two tries after dropping a 35-7 loss against Mayfield a week earlier.
An 82-yard punt return by sophomore Jeramie Sorina, a fourth-down reception by sophomore Alex Wood and freshman J.D. Gray's 79-yard run back of a kickoff kept Crittenden in the game early. However, the Rockets ran out of fuel, wasting away with cramps and fatigue even before intermission.
When the third quarter started, Caldwell's superior depth and no-huddle offense made quick work of the bone-tired Rocket defense, scoring on four of its first five possessions of the second half. Caldwell rushed for 216 yards, led by Rodney Bell's 99, and sophomore QB Will Barnes, the coach's son, threw for 160 yards. Barnes, whose father David Barnes is the Tigers' third head coach in as many seasons, completed 13 of his 18 passes, making eight straight late in the second period and early in the third.
Caldwell's short-passing attack kept Crittenden on its heels as senior Cameron Williams caught several middle screens for big plays en route to nine receptions for 120 yards.
The Rockets, very young this season and admittedly in a rebuilding mode with mostly sophomores and freshmen on the roster, played tough early against Caldwell. Crittenden fell behind 7-0, but tied the game after a 61-yard drive that was kept alive when Wood caught an 11-yard, fourth-down pass from backup QB Jacob Courtney, who stepped in one play for starter Taylon Polk. After converting the first down, Crittenden moved to the one-yard line where Polk ran a quarterback sneak for the touchdown.
The Rocket defense held Caldwell on the next series and forced a punt. Sorina bobbled it at his own 18 before finding the handle and turning on the jets. He outran the entire Tiger team down the sideline for a 14-7 lead after Daniel Farmer kicked the extra point.
Caldwell responded with a touchdown of its own. Williams, the Tiger who converted from QB to playmaker this season, scored the first of his six touchdowns on an 11-yard pass from Barnes. But the Rockets still had some punch left at that point. Gray, who transferred to Crittenden from Caldwell, outraced his former teammates on the ensuing kickoff from the Rocket 10 to the Tiger 11. Polk threw a touchdown pass to senior receiver Evan Smiley a couple of plays later and Crittenden was back head 21-14.
From there, Caldwell reeled of five unanswered TDs, each by Williams either running, receiving or returning a punt. He rushed for 61 yards on 11 carries.
The Rocket running game – forecast as its bread and butter this season – was stymied after the few minutes of the game. Sorina led the way with 35 yards on 13 carries and sophomore Rodney Robertson managed 30 yards on 11 tries. Otherwise, there was little success for the Rocket runners who tallied just 47 net yards on 38 attempts.
Polk, in his first game as the Rocket starting quarterback, threw for 104 yards on 8-of-17 accuracy. The Rockets didn't anticipate having to put the ball in the air that much, but after falling behind early in the third period, Crittenden was trying to catch up with every thing its arsenal.
Wood, the sophomore tight end who caught the early fourth-down pass, did not come back out after halftime because of heat exhaustion. Other Rockets were bent over with cramps and fatigue. Because of the thin roster and lack of depth, most have to play both ways.
Crittenden will host Class 3A Logan County next week. It will be the annual Hall of Fame game as former Rockets Jamie Champion, Denis Hodge and Chad Mott are inducted into the football shrine.
SCORE BY QUARTERS