Friday, November 11, 2016

Meltdown at Bardstown ends Rocket season

Senior Ethan Hunt (24) was
consoled by teammates
after the loss.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Friday’s second-round playoff loss will go down in the chronicles of Rocket football as the most distressing 11th-hour misstep in history.

Call it The Meltdown in Bardstown.

They will be talking about this one for years to come and although everyone will have an opinion as to when and how the colossal collapse started, it will never be defined by mere words. And it cannot be explained now. That discussion will be left to time and observations of others. The gaping wound remains far too fresh at this point to dissect the genesis and particulars of this casualty.

Let it be noted, however, that the worst fourth-quarter breakdown on record allowed Bethlehem to score 29 unanswered points and shock the Rockets 43-36 in the Class A semifinal at Bardstown.

Adam Beavers (55) played a superb
game on defense. Here, he tackles
Bethlehem's Jackson Gasser.
For their part, Crittenden County (5-7) rode a wave of emotion into the final period, playing near flawlessly for three quarters and leading 36-14.

Then the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. Three straight turnovers put unrelenting pressure on a Rocket defense that had stymied the Eagles for the better part of the game.

It was the perfect storm: Two interceptions gave Bethlehem (7-4) a short field. The Eagles needed only to score from the Rockets’ 48 and 22 yard lines. Then, with the game tied, Crittenden’s backfield fumbled the ball on an option pitch and the Eagles’ Andrew Werner scooped and scored from the Rocket 43 to take a lead it would not relenquish.

“We just made too many mistakes toward the end,” Rocket coach Al Starnes said. “But I’m proud of the kids. They fought. We had them on the ropes and that was exciting, but you have to finish.”

Crittenden’s emotional high – built on five straight touchdowns and Will Perkins’ first ever field goal in the third quarter – was deflated more rapidly than it was constructed.

“The momentum just changed,” Starnes said. “Momentum can affect so much.”

Gavin Dickerson rushes for a
gain in the 2nd half.
Indeed. Once the home team smelled blood, the rest came almost easy. Everything lined up perfectly in the final minutes for the unparalleled comeback and historic loss. Over the last 26 years, the Rockets had lost a fourth-quarter lead only seven times. Before this game, Crittenden’s biggest advantage to disappear in the final period was 11 points – in a 2009 playoff game against Mayfield.

Still, the coach said, there were many thrilling parts to the contest and the season. Such as senior Ethan Hunt’s record-setting performance, breaking the single-season record for most receptions. And, he caught a dozen passes for 125 yards against Bardstown, a new team standard. The previous single-game record was 11.

Rocket quarterback Hunter Boone – coming off perhaps his best game of the year against Fort Knox – kept it going in the first half at Bethlehem. He completed 10 of 11 at one point and threw three touchdown strikes – one apiece to Gavin Dickerson, Maeson Myers and Branen Lamey.

Crittenden opened the second half in similar fashion, driving the ball downfield on its first possession for a touchdown. Then Perkins centered up a 26-yard field goal with 1:58 to go in the third. The unravelling began from there.

The most points Crittenden had ever allowed in the fourth period before this game was 25 in 1994 against Hopkins Central (the Rockets held on to win that game).

Despite getting behind late in the game, the Rockets still had a chance after Sean O’Leary recovered a Bethlehem fumble with 1:12 to go. But the Eagles’ third interception closed the curtain.

Bethlehem has now ended the Rockets’ season three times since 2010. The unranked Eagles will advance to next week’s First Region championship game against No. 2 Russellville. See Class A Playoff Bracket.

Crittenden Co. 14 12 10 0
Bethlehem 7 7 0 29

B-Gabe Blincoe 17 pass from Matthew Hagan (Tommy Crawford kick) 7:10, 1st
C-Gavin Dickerson 7 pass from Hunter Boone (Will Perkins kick) 6:08, 1st
C-Maeson Myers 7 pass from Boone (Perkins kick) 4:29, 1st
C-Branen Lamey 24 pass from Boone (kick failed) 10:29, 2nd
B-Hagan 53 run (Crawford kick) 9:31, 2nd
C-Dickerson 6 run (pass failed) 7:06, 2nd
C-Boone 1 run (Perkins kick) 7:05, 3rd
C-Perkins 26 field goal, 1:58, 3rd
B-Jamison Hinkebein 18 pass from Hagan (Tyler Ohler run) 11:48, 4th
B-Ohler 22 run (Crawford kick) 11:13, 4th
B-Ohler 8 run (Crawford kick) 6:51, 4th
B-Andrew Werner 43 fumble recovery (Crawford kick) 5:26, 4th

First Downs: Crittenden 15, Bethlehem 11
Penalties: Crittenden 1-15, Bethlehem 4-33
Rushing: Crittenden 26-58, Bethlehem 35-203
Passing: Crittenden 25-39-4, 244 yds., Bethlehem 11-18-0, 139 yds.
Total Yards: Crittenden 302, Bethlehem 342
Fumbles/Lost: Crittenden 1-1, Bethlehem 1-1

Crittenden: Devon Nesbitt 12-23, Dickerson 6-30, Myers 1-4, Charlie Johnson 2-8, Branen Lamey 1-1, Boone 4-(-8). Bethlehem: Ohler 14-111, Werner 1-3, Blincoe 2-12, Jackson Gasser 5-17, Hagan 12-85.
Crittenden: Boone 25-39-4, 244 yds. Bethlehem: Hagan 11-18-0, 139 yds.
Crittenden: Hunt 12-125, Jared Lundy 1-4, Lamey 3-35, Myers 6-58, Dickerson 2-21, Nesbitt 1-1.
Records: Crittenden 5-7, Bethlehem 7-4