MURRAY, Ky. - Playing its second undefeated opponent in two weeks, Crittenden had Murray on the ropes in the third period but turnovers and injuries took a toll as the Tigers won 24-7 Friday after a fourth-quarter blitz at Roy Stewart Stadium.
J.D. Gray scored early in the third period after the Rockets got an onside kick to start the second half. His touchdown gave Crittenden a 7-3 lead in a battle of two bruising defenses.
Murray answered minutes later on the first of Brandon Wicks' three touchdowns, but the Rockets continued to move the ball. Crittenden drove to the Murray 30, 28 and 29 during the game, yet came up empty. With both teams grinding it out on the ground, possessions were few and the missed opportunities cost the Rockets.
Trailing 10-7, Crittenden had moved again into Murray territory, but running back Andrew Freemen fumbled and the Tigers recovered. On its first play after the recovery, Wicks broke around the left flank for a 71-yard TD run and a 17-7 lead early in the fourth. He added another scoring run five minutes later on a counter play. That touchdown was set up by a Murray interception and broke the Rockets' backs.
"They were a tough team, big and physical," Rocket coach Al Starnes said. "Our kids fought hard. We had chances, had chances early.
"We gave them some opportunities, too. We went for it on fourth down (on the first possession) and gave them a short field then held them to a field goal," Starnes added. "We had them on the ropes. Our kids played well."
Murray scored its two fourth-quarter touchdowns after injuries had taken a major toll on the Crittenden secondary. Brian Berry was knocked out of the game in the third quarter with a head injury and Gray left in the fourth with a smashed thumb. Both play in the defensive backfield where two regulars were already out – Tanner Nix and Dustin Hernandez.
"The secondary is where we were thin anyway, but the kids did a great job," Starnes said.
Crittenden made just one penalty in the game, but it cost the Rockets on an early drive. In the first half, the Rockets outgained Murray 98 to 66 yards.
The Tigers finished 10-0 in the regular season for the second time in school history. They were undefeated in 1993 and finished the 1932 season with no losses, but one tie.
Crittenden will be at home next week, hosting Kentucky Country Day in the first round of the playoffs.
Pictured at top is coach Al Starnes going over second half strategy during halftime at Roy Stewart Stadium. Below are the Rockets converging on Murray's Brandon Wix.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Crittenden 0 0 7 0
Murray 3 0 7 14
M-Jordan Benton 31 field goal, 7:38, 1st
CC-J.D. Gray 11 run (J.R. Adams kick) 3:24, 3rd
M-Brandon Wicks 33 run (Benton kick) 3:24, 3rd
M-Wicks 71 run (Benton kick) 11:15, 4th
M-Wicks 17 run (Benton kick) 5:28, 4th
First Downs: Crittenden 12, Murray 8
Penalties: Crittenden 1-10, Murray 4-45
Rushing: Crittenden 39-135, Murray 38-260
Passing: Crittenden 7-17-1, 64 yds., Murray 0
Total Yards: Crittenden 199, Murray 260
Fumbles/Lost: Crittenden 2-1, Murray 1-1
Rushing: Crittenden-Gray 18-78, Brian Berry 11-38, Andrew Freeman 7-18, Devin Wallace 1-2, Bryce Willis 2-(-1). Murray-Wicks 17-163, Shickille Davis 12-33, Christian Duncan 2-39, Terrel Buck 2-6, Kendall Deese 1-0, Bob Fields 3-16, Demoree Fields 1-3.
Passing: Crittenden-Gray 7-16-1, 64 yds.
Receiving: Crittenden-Dylan Clark 5-46, Allen Kirk 1-7, Justin Lee 1-11.
Defense: Bebout 2 solos, 3 assists; 2 TFL; A.Berry 4 solos, 4 assists, 2 TFL; B.Berry 2 solos, 2 assists; Clark 4 solos, 3 assists, 2 TFL, caused fumble; Cudnik 4 assists; Fletcher 8 solos, 5 assists, TFL; Gray 4 solos, 3 assists; Lee 4 assists, fumble recovery; Price solo; Thornton 5 solos, 6 assists; TFL, blocked kick, fumble recovery; D.Wallace assist; Werne solo, assist; Willis assist.
Pizza Hut Players of the Game: Offense Dylan Clark. Defense Dyllan Thornton and Jackie Fletcher. Lineman Aaron Berry.
Records: Crittenden 8-2, Murray 10-0