Sophomore running back Rodney Robertson fights
for yards in the second half.
Homecoming at Rocket Stadium ...
Rockets fall by 2 in thriller
Resurrection nearly complete
MARION, Ky. Sept. 29 -- The Rocket resurrection was almost complete.
Yet hopes for an absolute turnaround to an otherwise disappointing season fell incomplete on a failed conversion pass with no time left on the clock as Metcalfe County beat Crittenden County 21-19 Friday during homecoming at Rocket Stadium. (click here for homecoming court photos).
Against Metcalfe (5-1) – a team Crittenden (1-5) wasn't supposed t handle – the Rockets got some heroic plays up and down the lineup and took the Hornets to the wire in both teams' first Class A Second District matchup.
The Rockets came out of the chute and cruised to a 13-0 lead in the first half thanks to two Metcalfe turnovers in the red zone and a blocked punt. Crittenden's quarterback Taylon Polk, who pulls double duty on special teams, blocked the Hornet punt and teammate Josh Tinsley recovered the loose ball at the Metcalfe 18 to set up Crittenden's first touchdown. Then, Rocket linebacker Gaige Courtney made a big hit after a Metcalfe pass completion, rattling loose the ball which Rodney Robertson picked up at the Hornet 19. From there, the Rocket offense pounded its way to the end zone for a two-touchdown lead against a team that is figured to be among the district's best.
Crittenden had difficulties stopping Hornet quarterback Will Warf all night. The tall, lanky QB was virtually unstoppable on quick sneaks up the pipe and his throwing arm was accurate to the tune of 13-for-17 and 129 yards. It was the 6-foot-3 quarterback who led the Hornets to a touchdown just before the end of the half and cut the hosts' margin to 13-7.
Crittenden, struggling offensively, managed fewer than 30 yards in the second half until it got a second wind on the final series and went the length of the field. Metcalfe had scored on its first possession of the third period; then, despite some valiant stops by the Rocket defense posted the go-ahead touchdown with 1:17 to play. The Hornets' final TD was set up by a Jeffery White interception. He returned it deep into Crittenden territory.
With very little time left and the Rockets looking at a long 79 yards between its kickoff return and the goal line, their opportunities appeared few. The offense had spat and sputtered the entire game, but ratcheted up some heat when it needed it the most. Senior tight end Jacob Courtney caught a 12-yard pass from Polk and Jeramie Sorina picked up a crucial 10 yards on a running play during the final drive to put the Rockets near midfield. Trailing by a touchdown with nine seconds left, coach Al Starnes drew up his final play. It didn't turn out anything like he envisioned, but Crittenden scored on a broken pass that ricocheted off the outstretched hands of Courtney and into the clutches of freshman J.D. Gray. The ninth grader, who had been vomiting from the flu all day and didn't even dress for the first half, raced the final 30 yards to the end zone and brought a thrilling game to a climactic finish.
With no time outs, the Rockets lined up for a possible game-tying two-point conversion with Courtney behind center. He took the snap and rolled right. For a flash he had receiver Alex Wood open beyond the goal line, but Metcalfe's White – the guy whose fourth-quarter interception set up the go-ahead touchdown – closed the gap and batted down the pass to preserve the Hornet victory.
Although Crittenden came up two points short, the close encounter may work wonders for the ailing Rocket psyche. Off to their worst start in coach Starnes' 16-year tenure, playing the No. 12 ranked team in Class A to a virtual stalemate was something of a moral victory.
“It was a hard fought ball game... it was a war," Starnes said. "We didn't know who we were as a football team until this game. We showed a lot of guts and we handled a real battle against a very good football team. We matured and showed a lot of character and heart by sticking it out to the very end."
CC-Taylon Polk 1 run (Polk kick) 6:23, 1st
CC-Jeramie Sorina 2 run (run failed) 6:07, 2nd
MC-Jeffery White 4 run (White kick) 1:00, 2nd
MC-David Coffey 3 pass from Will Warf (kick blocked) 3:11, 3rd
MC-Warf 1 run (Coffey pass from Warf) 1:17, 4th
CC-J.D. Gray 44 pass from Polk (pass failed) :00, 4th