Friday, September 23, 2011

Rockets post first district victory in 2A

MARION, Ky. – A bumpy road got a little smoother for the Rockets Friday as Crittenden County employed a rigid running attack and aggressive defense to pull off a 34-0 homecoming victory over Reidland.

Rocket defensive end Devin Clark (54) brings down Reidland's
Colin Spink during the first half Friday night.
After a schedule that included some lumps and bruises to the Rocket record and its psyche, Crittenden County found its mojo in the first Class 2A District game of the season. Senior running back Dustin Hernandez rushed for two touchdowns and 147 yards.

"We got a lot our players back and had home field advantage," said Hernandez. "This feels more like Crittenden County football. The Rockets are coming back!"

After more than seven scoreless quarters and three straight losses, Crittenden finally got its swagger back on offense as Hernandez and Grant Gardner combined for 124 yards on the ground during the first half. Both scored to give the Rockets a 12-0 halftime lead. 

But out of the chute, the Rockets still looked a little shell-shocked from losing its last two games by a combined total of 90-16. On its first series, Crittenden was whistled for lining up wrong on a short third-down play. Two snaps later they turned the ball over on downs. On the next series, three straight illegal procedures penalties forced Crittenden to punt.

After that, the tough, early schedule began to show dividends. The Rockets took control of Reidland – the weakest team it's faced since the opening game – and scored twice in the second period. The second half, wasn't even a contest. The Rockets poured it on with a chiseling defense, pinning the Greyhounds' ground game to a net-zero yards the last two periods. And, Crittenden wasn't whistled for another infraction after the first period.

Reidland's two-prong attack featuring Colin Spink and Craig Johnson lacked much creativity, and the Rockets made them pay. Despite some nice runs by the two backs, Crittenden set the tempo and sacked the Greyhound quarterback five times. Devin Clark and Stephon Cozart had two apiece.

"We dominated them up front," Rocket coach Al Starnes said after picking up his eighth win in nine tries against Reidland. "We got a taste of victory and we needed that. Now, we just need to get all of our kids back."

Taylor Keister was crowned queen and Bryce
Willis was king during homecoming ceremonies
prior to the game. See the entire court by clicking here.
The Rockets, who have been hobbled by injuries and other personnel issues during the early part of the season, had nine players in street clothes for this game, including starters Devin Wallace and Clint Asbridge. Both should be back next week when 6A Marshall County comes to Marion.

For Rocket quarterback Bryce Willis, who threw for just six yards by completing one of three passes, the win was what mattered. He rushed for 24 yards on five carries, including one touchdown. On defense, he intercepted a pass and returned it 75 yards for a TD.

"We'd been kind of down the past couple of weeks, but we played hyped and energized tonight," he said. "This first district win is what really matters. This got us into the playoffs."

Indeed, it may have. In the new five-team Class 2A First District, Crittenden is now 1-0 and should make the post-season based on this early victory. The other teams in the district are Caldwell County, Ballard Memorial and Murray, none of whom the Rockets have played yet.

Starnes praised the play of Clark and other linemen like Eli Bebout and Korey Mayes.

"We had several kids step up tonight and that's what we have to have," the coach said.

He also pointed to the play of kicker Micah Hollamon who had a touchdown-saving tackle late in the game and recovered a squib kick that bounced off a Reidland player.

Reidland     0     0    0    0
Crittenden   0   12   8   14

CC-Dustin Hernandez 2 run (kick failed) 4:15, 2nd
CC-Grant Gardner 1 run (run failed) 1:02, 2nd
CC-Hernandez 54 run (Bobby Knox pass from Bryce Willis) 11:40, 3rd
CC-Bryce Willis 7 run (Micah Hollamon kick) 7:12, 4th
CC-Willis 75 interception return (Hollamon kick) 3:37, 4th

First Downs: Crittenden 4, Reidland 11
Penalties: Crittenden 4-20, Reidland 1-5
Rushing: Crittenden 25-210, Reidland 42-66
Passing: Crittenden 1-3-0, 6 yds., Reidland 13-29-1, 95 yds.
Total Yards: Crittenden 216, Reidland 161

Crittenden-Hernandez 9-147, Gardner 6-39, Willis 5-24, Noah Dickerson 1-(-1), Zach Tinsley 2-(-3). Reidland-Colin Spink 20-79, Craig Johnson 14-48, Josh Herndon 6-(-26), Heath Pederson 1-(-25), Cody McClintock 1-(-10).
Crittenden-Willis 1-3-0, 6 yds., Reidland-Herndon 13-19-1, 95 yds.
Crittenden-Brenden Phillips 1-6. Reidland-Spink 5-43, Johnson 5-13, Auston Davidson 3-39.
Atwell 3 solos, assist; Bebout 7 solos, 6 assists, 2 TFL, sack; Clark 10 solos, 4 assists, 2 TFL, 2 sacks; Cozart 4 solos, 2 assists, TFL, 2 sacks; Dickerson assist; Evers 3 solos, 3 assists; Gardner 6 solos, 5 assists, TFL; Gilbert 2 solos, 3 assists; Hernandez solo, 4 assists; Hollamon solo, fumble recovery; Knox 9 solos, 4 assists, TFL; Lynch solo, assist; Mayes 7 solos, 3 assists, TFL, caused fumble; Phillips 4 solos, 8 assists, TFL; Roberts solo, assist; Tinsley solo; Wagoner 2 solos, 3 assists, fumble recovery; Willis 3 solos, 2 assists, TFL, interception.
Pizza Hut Players of the Game: Offense Dustin Hernandez, Defense Devin Clark, Linemen Korey Mayes and Eli Bebout, Special Teams Micah Hollamon.
Records: Crittenden 2-3, Reidland 1-5