MARION, Ky. – After two bruising weeks to end the regular season, Crittenden County needed a respite from its brutal western Kentucky schedule and got just what the coach ordered.
The seventh-ranked Rockets dispatched Louisville's Kentucky Country Day 48-9 in the first round of the Class A playoffs with a solid running game and stern defense. Starters were off the field for Crittenden late in the third period after the Rockets led 48-0.
With so many of Crittenden's players nursing nagging injuries, it was a great opportunity to rest the regulars and allow the reserves to finish off an easy opening-round victory.
Running back Andrew Freeman rushed for a career-high 161 yards on 18 carries with bracemate Brian Berry among those sidelined with injuries. Freeman carried three touchdowns and quarterback J.D. Gray ran for three more on 115 yards as he became the fourth leading rusher in Crittenden County football history.
Crittenden was fierce out of the chute, scoring on its first four possessions and six times in the first half. The Rockets were ahead 21-0 after running a dozen plays to start the game.
Meanwhile, the defense was impenetrable on the ground. Crittenden threw Bearcat runners for minus-9 yards rushing and the first team secondary held the full-throttle passing attack of KDC to about 100 yards. The Bearcats finished with 177 through the air, but about 80 came late against the backups as the guests posted a late field goal and touchdown in the fourth period.
The defense forced two fumbles as Dyllan Thornton and Dylan Clark picked up the loose balls. Both turnovers led to Rocket touchdowns.
It was the second straight victory over the private Louisville school in as many meetings in the first round of the playoffs. Crittenden beat the Bearcats 47-0 last year en route to a regional title.
The Rockets will travel to Louisville Holy Cross next week for the regional semifinal round. The Saints beat Fulton 62-0 at Louisville. Elsewhere Mayfield dominated Caverna 70-0 and Ballard Memorial eked out a win at Bardstown 33-28 over Bethlehem. The Bombers will be at Mayfield for the other First Region semifinal next week.
Inset photo: Rocket running back Andrew Freeman (31) rushed for a career-high 161 yards vs. Country Day. Above is cornerback Justin Lee (22) chasing down KCD receiver David Giesel (44).
SCORE BY QUARTERS
KY Country Day 0 0 0 9
Crittenden Co. 21 20 7 0
CC-J.D. Gray 27 run (J.R. Adams kick) 11:02, 1st
CC-Gray 21 run (Adams kick) 9:36, 1st
CC-Andrew Freeman 10 run (Adams kick) 4:58, 1st
CC-Freeman 1 run (Adams kick) 8:19, 2nd
CC-Gray 6 run (Adams kick) 2:16, 2nd
CC-Freeman 1 run (kick failed) :09, 2nd
CC-Devin Wallace 1 run (Adams kick) 6:01, 3rd
KCD-Daniel Mark 28 field goal 11:40, 4th
KCD-David Giesel 28 pass from Robert Scholtz (pass failed) 1:21, 4th
First Downs: Crittenden 15, Country Day 8
Penalties: Crittenden 4-25, Country Day 3-15
Rushing: Crittenden 40-348, Country Day 16-(-9)
Passing: Crittenden 3-6-0, 55 yds., Country Day 15-29-0, 177 yds.
Total Yards: Crittenden 403, Country Day 168
Fumbles/Lost: Crittenden 0-0, Country Day 2-2
Rushing: Crittenden-Freeman 18-161, Gray 10-115, Tanner Nix 4-56, Wallace 6-17, Chris Copeland 1-1, Dustin Hernandez 1-(-2). Country Day-Giesel 2-(-4), David Smith 1-11, Tyler Abrams 3-(-6), Isaiah Brents 2-(-4), Scholtz 4-(-6), Paul Peters 1-0.
Passing: Crittenden-Gray 3-6-0, 55 yds. Country Day-Scholtz 15-28-0, 177 yds., Rob Weishar 0-1-0.
Receiving: Crittenden-Nix 3-55. Country Day-David Holtgrave 4-47, Ryan Scinta 5-38, Will Smith 4-58, Giesel 1-28, Weishar 1-6.
Defense: Bebout solo, TFL; A.Berry solo, assist; Clark 2 solos, assist, fumble recovery; Copeland 2 solos; Cudnik solo; 3 assists; Fletcher 5 solos, 2 TFL; Freeman 4 solos, assist, 3 TFL; Gray solo; Hamby assist; Hernandez solo, 4 assists; Hill solo; Kirk solo; Knox solo, assist, TFL; Lee 3 solos, assist; Price solo, caused fumble; Thornton 5 solos, assist, 2 TFL; Thunbo 2 solos; Tinsley assist; B.Wallace solo; Werne assist; Willis assist.
Pizza Hut Players of the Game: Offense J.D. Gray and Andrew Freeman, Defense Dyllan Thornton and Jackie Fletcher, Lineman Andrew Freeman.
Records: Crittenden 9-2, Country Day 5-6