MARION, Ky. - The mark of a good football team is one that can find ways to win when it's not at its best.
Crittenden County was not perfectly crisp, but was rugged enough to beat a physical Class 3A Union County team 25-16 Friday at Rocket Stadium.
Penalties, a couple of fumbles and a sporadic offense muffled the Rockets (6-2) at times, but their defense knocked Union (3-4) off balance and kept the door open. Defense has become a staple in Crittenden's six wins and Union's generally potent running game was idled by the Rocket clutches. Devin Foster, the Braves highly touted sophomore running back, was held to 60 yards on 22 carries as Union managed to net just 58 on the ground.
While Union's running attack was bottled up, its passing game was pouring from the spigot. QB Jordon Robison stretched the Rocket secondary for 236 yards on 17-of-31 passing, including two touchdowns, but it wasn't enough.
Although it sputtered at times, the Rocket offense found its balance enough to post touchdowns on its first possession of each half. Rodney Robertson rushed for all three Crittenden TDs and J.R. Adams kicked a 30-yard field goal in the third period.
Robertson ran for 160 yards, bolstered by a late 50-yard touchdown run to drop the hatched on the visiting Braves. Robertson's second touchdown of the game to start the third period was set up by a 46-yard pass reception by tight end Gaige Courtney.
Despite a broken hand that kept him sidelined for half of the season, Robertson has amassed 621 yards in four and a half games.
Courtney played a big role on defense, too. It was his pressure on Robison midway through the fourth period that forced an errant throw as Union gave up the ball on downs in Rocket territory. It was critical defensive stand for the Rockets after they had just taken an 18-8 lead on Adams' second field goal of the season, making it a two-possession ballgame with five minutes to play.
Gray stayed on his feet on the next series to move the chains on a crucial fourth-down run that helped milk the clock. Still, Union got the ball back and scored with 2:13 to play, but Robertson took all the fun out the final two minutes for Union when he carried the first handoff of the next series from midfield to the end zone, outrunning the entire Brave secondary.
The non-district victory gives Crittenden a 4-3 edge in the most recent years of the series against Union County. The Braves and Rockets have played some exciting games over the past 8 seasons, but they will not meet in 2009 or 2010 due to a scheduling conflict. Rocket coach Al Starnes has said he would like to renew the border battle in 2011. Union is the Class 3A First District champion this season. The Rockets, winners of the Class A First District crown, have now defeated two teams in that 3A district, including Webster County.
Crittenden will have a long road trip for next week's district finale at Fulton County. The Pilots are winless in district play and the outcome of the game will have no bearing on the Rockets' winning the title. A Crittenden loss at Fulton County would, however, give Mayfield a share of the championship, but the Rockets would win the postseason's No. 1 seed based on head-to-head competition.
Pictured above is Crittenden's Andrew Freeman (31) and Gaige Courtney (28) bearing down on Union's Devin Foster ... and the referee who was too close to the action.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Union County 8 0 0 8
Crittenden Co. 8 0 10 7
UC-Brian Bickett 63 pass from Jordan Robison (Devin Foster pass from Robison) 11:48, 1st
CC-Rodney Robertson 31 run (Gaige Courtney pass from J.D. Gray) 11:22, 1st
CC-Robertson 3 run (J.R. Adams kick) 9:00, 3rd
CC-Adams 30 field goal, 5:06, 3rd
UC-Tyler Cullen 29 pass from Robison (Bickett pass from Robison) 2:13, 4th
CC-Robertson 50 run (Adams kick) 2:02, 4th
First Downs: Crittenden 10, Union 11
Penalties: Crittenden 6-50, union 1-15
Rushing: Crittenden 37-225, Union 29-58
Passing: Crittenden 5-10-0, 102 yds., Union 11-31-1, 236 yds.
Total Yards: Crittenden 327, Union 294
Fumbles/Lost: Crittenden 2-2, Union 4-3
Crittenden: Robertson 16-160, Gray 15-38, Courtney 5-26, Brian Berry 1-1. Union: Foster 22-60, Robison 4-(-14), Darrian Smith 1-3, Cullen 1-5, Nathan Hedgepath 1-4.
Crittenden: Gray 5-10-0, 102 yds. Union: Robison 11-31-1, 236 yds.
Crittenden: Courtney 3-76, B.Berry 1-22, Josh Urbanowski 1-4. Union: Bickett 6-105, Foster 5-61, Cullen 2-31, Michael Bennett 2-21.
A.Berry 7 solos, 5 assists, sack; B.Berry 3 solos, 9 assists, TFL; Clark 5 solos, 3 assists, TFL; Courtney 8 solos, 6 assists, TFL, fumble recovery; Fletcher solo, assist, caused fumble; Greeman 2 solos, 4 assists, caused fumble; Gray 2 solos, 3 assists, interception, caused fumble; Kirk solo; McConnell 2 solos, 2 assists; Nix 2 assists; Pluskota 5 solos, 4 assists, TFL, sack; Thornton 3 solos, 6 assists; Urbanowski 2 solos, assist; Werne 2 solos, 2 assists, 2 sacks, fumble recovery, blocked kick.
Records: Crittenden 6-2, Union 3-4.
Records: Crittenden 6-2, Union 3-4.