Rocket defenders Josh Tinsley (8) and J.D. Gray (14) chase down a receiver
and an overthrown pass.
Rockets outshoot Logan 43-38
MARION, Ky. Sept. 1 -- Crittenden County's fun-and-gun attack of 2005 may be gone, but there's plenty of excitement built into the Rockets' new patchwork offense.
The critics say they can't pass, but first-year starting quarterback Taylon Polk delivered 206 yards through the air to help beat Logan County 43-38 in a shootout Friday night at Rocket Stadium.
Some have questioned their heart, but the Rocket defense rose up at critical points in the fourth quarter as the Class 3A Cougars' undying aerial attack kept drilling away as time was running out.
With mostly freshmen and sophomores in key positions, others have wondered if Crittenden could win the close ones.
The young and restless Rockets answered many pundits’ questions this week as Polk and sophomores Rodney Robertson and Jeramie Sorina led the team's charge toward its first win of the season.
Perhaps the team's harshest critic is 16-year head coach Al Starnes who wore frustration on his face and kicked the dirt dozens of times as his still-wet-behind-the-ears ball club made countless mistakes and nearly fumbled away its lead late in the game.
"We should have put it away earlier," he said with a grimace.
Certainly, the Rockets' three turnovers were painful, especially one on a key drive late in the game when they needed to keep the ball out of Logan's hands. But in the end, none were too costly to preserve the win. Senior linebacker Jacob Courtney, junior lineman A.J. Thompson and sophomores Alex Wood and Gaige Courtney came up with some big defensive plays when it really counted. Polk, a senior, was poised in the waning seconds as he threw a touchdown pass to classmate Evan Smiley to make sure Logan didn't have a chance to pull off the upset.
Despite those and other heroics, there was plenty of cause for concern. Logan never quit. Its senior quarterback Alex Graves kept the Rocket secondary off balance with his mix of runs and 14-of-32 passing for 242 yards.
Robertson stole most of the spotlight on offense for Crittenden County, scoring three times and catching five passes for 126 yards out of the backfield. He also came up with a big grab when Logan tried an onside kick as the game was closing.
Sorina had a huge play late in the fourth period when he went 64 yards on a kickoff return to set up freshman J.D. Gray's seven-yard touchdown run. When Daniel Farmer kicked the extra point for Crittenden with 3:48 to play, it gave the Rockets a 10-point cushion and virtually sealed the outcome. Despite Crittenden's 36-26 lead at the time, there was still plenty of scoring left and those fans who exited their seats early missed some nail-biting action. The Rockets tacked on another TD and Logan got a pair in the final three minutes.
Much improved from their opening week loss at Caldwell County, the Rockets were able in Week Two to at least quieten some of the early-season analysts who have pined away at losing T.K. Guess, Blake Gardner, Austin Berry & Co., to graduation. With a host of new names filling in all of the gaps, it might take fans a couple of more weeks to warm up to this new-look Rocket corps, but if the Logan game was any indication, there's not enough film on the highlight reel to capture the true essence of coach Starnes' unheralded young squad.
In fact, if they don’t win another game, the Rockets have already proven that most the preseason ink spent on them won’t hold up. The offense is much more unpredictable than originally forecast and with just two games under its belt, the young team is showing some mental toughness that many didn’t expect.
“This was a good win,” Starnes said about the victory over Logan. “It was important for our confidence because we had so many question marks coming into the season.
“We really didn’t know how our kids would handle the tough situations, but they played with a lot of heart Friday night.”
Starnes said Polk and Robertson each had breakout games that made a difference in the outcome.
This week will be a truer test of what Crittenden can accomplish with its fledgling corps as a seasoned Union County club comes to Marion.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
CC-Jacob Courtney fumble recovery (run failed) 7:35, 1st
LC-Luke Gillam 11 pass from Alex Graves (Jeffrey Sydnor pass from Blake Maacham) 2:15, 1st
CC-Rodney Robertson 70 pass from Taylon Polk (Polk pass from Jacob Courtney) 11:47, 2nd
LC-Thomas Washington 9 pass from Graves (kick failed) 3:24, 2nd
CC-Robertson 31 pass from Polk (Daniel Farmer kick) 1:04, 2nd
LC-Sydnor 16 pass from Graves (kick failed) :15, 2nd
CC-Robertson 10 pass from Polk (J.Courtney pass from Polk) 5:54, 3rd
LC-Andrew Buntin 31 pass from Graves (pass failed) 4:53, 4th
CC-J.D. Gray 7 run (Farmer kick) 3:48, 4th
LC-Maacham 15 pass from Graves (pass failed) 2:15, 4th
CC-Evan Smiley 58 pass from Polk (Farmer kick) :31, 4th
LC-Buntin 15 pass from Graves, :00, 4th
Friday night was the annual Hall of Fame Game. Here, new inductees
Denis Hodge, Jamie Champion and Chad Mott are along with their
families during a halftime ceremony.