Rocket sophomore defenders David Turner (67) and Ezekiel Sorina (67) put the squeeze on McLean's
Spencer Phillips during Friday's district win on the road.
Rockets win for second time
Playoffs hopes still alive
CALHOUN, Ky. Oct. 6 -- The taste of victory is sweeter in a season when it has been so elusive.
Crittenden County won its second game in seven weeks of football Friday at McLean County and the excitement of the post-game celebration was like Game 7 of the World Series.
“We played with a lot of heart, a lot of character and never quit,” coach Al Starnes said after his 2-5 Rockets upset 5-2 McLean County 19-13 on the road.
“Our defense played an outstanding game. When it came down to it, the defense stepped up and made the plays,” Starnes added. “Offensively, we shot ourselves in the foot a few times, but with the game on the line they stepped up and drove the length of the field to win.”
Although it was Crittenden's sometimes sputtering offense that drove 74-yards in the final two minutes to score the game-winning touchdown, its defense was the hero. Three times during the contest, McLean jetted into the red zone but came up empty against a gritty Rocket defense. The Cougars penetrated the 10-yard line each time, but big plays from the likes of freshman linebacker Aaron Berry, sophomore linebacker Gaige Courtney and others helped Crittenden put the clamps on McLean.
The Cougars were playing without their best running back Nick Tanner so they relied heavily on a short passing game that stretched the Rocket secondary for 145 yards. Tanner suffered a concussion in the previous week's game.
It was Crittenden's passing that made a whole lot of the difference in the second half. And while senior quarterback Taylon Polk was warming up the spiral, the Rocket defense pitched a shutout the last two periods to ensure the win.
Rocket sophomore running back Jeramie Sorina had a career night, rushing for 142 yards on 23 attempts, but it was Polk who threw for two second-half touchdowns with sophomore fullback Rodney Robertson making both grabs. Robertson caught the game winner in the flat with 33 seconds to play and raced untouched into the end zone, breaking a 13-13 tie.
Robertson finished with five catches for 58 yards and Polk threw for 106 yards, completing 8 of 11 passes. The Rocket offense sustained some impressive drives, scoring on a six-play, 56-yard package on its first possession of the game to equalize McLean's game-opening kickoff return for a touchdown. Crittenden also drove 56 yards for a touchdown to open the third period and tie the game at 13.
On their final drive of the game, the Rockets got a crucial third-down catch by senior tight end Jacob Courtney near midfield. Then, Robertson caught a huge 22-yard pass and took a late hit out of bounds that tacked on an extra 15 yards in penalty, moving Crittenden deep into McLean territory. Eighty yards of infractions hurt McLean throughout the game.
After the big penalty, Robertson caught another seven-yard pass to move the chains one last time, setting up a first down at the Cougar 11. On the very next play, he hauled in the game-clinching TD in the left flat that may have indeed saved the Rockets' season.
The victory gives Crittenden a good shot to make the playoffs just when it appeared this might be the first in a dozen years that the Rockets would miss the postseason dance. At 1-1 in the district, Crittenden goes to Caverna – a three-hour-plus road trip – next week to face a team that it will be favored to beat. On paper, the Rockets are better than 1-6 Caverna, which lost 54-14 to Second District favorite Russellville Friday. However, the long bus ride is always a mitigating factor. In their previous three meetings, Crittenden has outscored Caverna 116-39, but eked out a 21-19 win two years ago in its only road trip the Colonels' venue.
SCORE BY QUARTER
MC-Raymond Humphrey 90 kickoff return (run failed) 11:45, 1st
CC-Jeramie Sorina 1 run (run failed) 8:57, 1st
MC-A.J. Henderson 16 pass from Miles Puckett (Henderson kick) 2:06, 2nd
CC-Rodney Robertson 6 pass from Taylon Polk (J.D. Gray kick) 7:40, 3rd
CC-Robertson 11 pass from Polk (kick failed) :33, 4th
Defense J.Courtney 4 solos, 6 assists, 2 TFL; Polk 3 solos, 3 assists, TFL, fumble recovery; Hardin 2 solos, assist, fumble recovery; Thompson 3 solos, 2 assists, TFL; G.Courtney 5 solos, 7 assists; Robertson solo, assist; Turner 3 solos, 2 assists; Wood 2 solos; Berry 6 solos, 2 assists, 2 TFL; Gray 5 solos; Moranz assist.
Players of the Game (as selected by the coaching staff) Offense: Taylon Polk, Jeramie Sorina and Rodney Robertson. Defense: entire defensive unit. Lineman: A.J. Thompson.