Friday, October 29, 2010

Rockets lose game and starting tackle

Rockets Grant Gardner and Dustin Hernandez stop Murray
running back Shickill Davis in the second half.
MARION, Ky. – Murray's defense – the stingiest in the state – lived up to its reputation, taking the Rockets completely out of its running game and forcing Crittenden to live and die via the pass.

For about three quarters, the Rockets (7-3) were able to knit and pick a few yards here and there to make it a game. But the wear and tear showed late, and Murray marched to a second straight undefeated regular season with a hard-fought 21-10 victory.

The Tigers, ranked second in Class 2A, used its massive frontline to lean on the seventh-ranked Rockets until they had their way late in the game. Crittenden stood firm early, even took a 10-7 lead into the half, but fatigue and the loss of two-way starting lineman Stephon Cozart took its toll in the fourth period. Cozart went down with a broken left ankle in the second quarter. It was big blow in this game, but will be a heavier burden as the playoffs begin next week. He will miss the entire postseason.

"Anytime you lose a two-way starter like that, it hurts," said Rocket coach Al Starnes. "I was really proud though of the kids who stepped in there for him."

It took three to replace the sophomore Cozart. Corey Mayes and Elliott Day doubled up to handle the defensive chores and Devin Clark played tackle on offense.

Rocket quarterback Brian Berry, who was 9-for-20 for 104 yards, was down on himself after the game, although his passing yards were about all Crittenden could muster.

"We should have beaten them," Berry said. "There were too many missed opportunities. I missed my receivers all night."

Berry was intercepted twice and threw behind receivers a few times, but still it was his arm that kept the game close. He hooked up with Tanner Nix and Dustin Hernandez three times apiece for 50 and 21 yards, respectively.

Murray's defensive unit allowed just over six points per contest all season. Part of its success was based on creating turnovers. It took the ball away from Crittenden three times. On the year, the Tigers forced 34 turnovers, including 24 interceptions.

"We knew we couldn't line up and run it at them," Starnes said. "A couple more completed passes and it could have been a different game."

On the ground, the Rockets were stymied. Berry netted 35 yards on four runs, but that was about it. Three other running backs managed just 14 yards on 12 carries.

"Crittenden gave Mayfield a good game. They have a good line and they're well coached. They're a good team," Murray coach Steve Duncan said. "Their quarterback can run and I watch enough games on TV to know that teams with a running quarterback can hurt you."

Crittenden struggled for every crumb it could find on offense. In contrast, Murray steamrolled late after wearing down the Rockets. The Tigers got a 79-yard run from workhorse halfback Matt Deese in the first half to set up its touchdown. Otherwise, the Rockets held the highly-billed wishbone running attack in check. The second half was a different story. Murray kept pounding inside with Deese and then handed off to a couple of fresh runners – Christian Duncan and Bob Fields – to get some extra lift. The Tigers picked up 153 yards rushing the last half, much of it on a sustained drive that chewed up about six minutes in the fourth period. That 12-play series ended with the Tigers' final touchdown to put the game virtually out of reach with just under five minutes to play.

"Two weeks in a row we played two of the best teams in the state and fought to the very end. We played hard both games," Starnes said. "We went toe to toe with Murray, but just couldn't get any breaks."

The Rockets host Bethlehem in the first round of the playoffs next week.

Murray        0   7   7   7
Crittenden  7   3   0   0

CC-Tanner Nix 20 pass from Brian Berry (Micah Hollamon kick) 8:51, 1st
M-Shickill Davis 2 run (Carson Greifencamp kick) 4:25, 2nd
CC-Berry 27 field goal, :00, 2nd
M-Matt Deese 14 run (Greifencamp kick) 7:39, 3rd
M-Christian Duncan 6 run (Greifencamp kick) 4:46, 4th

First Downs: Crittenden 6, Murray 13
Penalties: Crittenden 5-40, Murray 8-50
Rushing: Crittenden 16-49, Murray 51-285
Passing: Crittenden 9-20-2, 104 yds., Murray 2-4-1, 72 yds.
Total Yards: Crittenden 153, Murray 389
Fumbles/Lost: Crittenden 1-1, Murray 3-1

Crittenden-Berry 4-35, Andrew Freeman 7-7, Tanner Nix 4-5, Dustin Hernandez 1-2. Murray-Matt Deese 19-140, Duncan 12-82, Bob Fields 10-46, Davis 7-17, Kendall Deese 3-0.
Crittenden-Berry 9-20-2, 104 yds. Murray-K.Deese 2-4-1, 72 yds.
Crittenden-Nix 3-50, Hernandez 3-21, Grant Gardner 1-14, Robert Cudnik 1-12, Brenden Phillips 1-7. Murray-Cedric Cherry 2-72.
Asbridge assist; Bebout 4 solos, 5 assists; Clark solo, assist; Cozart 5 assists; Cudnik 5 solos, 8 assists, interception; Freeman 7 solos, 9 assists; Gardner 7 solos, 5 assists; Hamby 2 solos, assist; Hernandez 6 solos, 5 assists, TFL; Knox 3 assists; Long solo, 2 assists; Mayes solo, 3 assists; Nix 5 solos, 9 assists; Phillips 6 solos, 9 assists; B.Wallace 2 assists; D.Wallace 5 solos, 5 assists, TFL; Werne 2 solos, 8 assists; Willis 4 solos, 10 assists.
Pizza Hut Players of the Game
Defense Andrew Freeman and Brenden Phillips. Offense Tanner Nix. Lineman Eli Bebout.
Records: Crittenden 7-3, Murray 10-0.