Friday, September 26, 2008

Rockets upset Mayfield 27-14

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MAYFIELD, Ky. - Quarterback J.D. Gray and his Rockets finally stuck that ticklish feather in their caps – the one that had eluded and even humiliated Crittenden County for years. Beating Mayfield for the first time ever 27-14 will go down in the annals of Rocket lore as one of the greatest chapters in a storied football history.

For the past 13 years, since Mayfield dropped down to play Class A football, the Cardinals had been Crittenden's arch nemesis, beating the Rockets eight times in the playoffs since 1995. Restructuring put Crittenden in the same district with Mayfield last year and the Cardinal mystique seemed like an insurmountable barrier to a district championship.

All that changed Friday night when Gray threw a third-and-long, fourth-quarter touchdown pass to senior receiver Dustin McConnell. As McConnell streaked 44 yards untouched down the sideline, it was like watching a clip for the History Channel.

That image will forever be ingrained in Rocket memory, and just perhaps in the Cardinals' psyche as Crittenden erased 10 straight losses to mighty Mayfield.

The Rockets entered the game ranked 13th in the Associated Press Class A Poll. Mayfield was ninth.

"We just made history," Rocket football coach Al Starnes said as he addressed his team following the game on the hallowed turf at War Memorial Stadium. Beating the winner of seven state championships on their home field will leave a lasting taste in the mouths of all those involved.

"We did this as a team, but we have to give a lot of credit to our seniors and their leadership," Starnes said. "We showed we can win a big game like this, but this is only the beginning."
Starnes and his Rockets will have their sights on winning a district championship for the first time since 2002. Crittenden has won four titles since 1996, but all of those were in the Second District, before they joined the ranks of Mayfield, Fulton City, Fulton County and Ballard Memorial.

Against Mayfield, Gray was unstoppable, rushing for two touchdowns and 157 yards and throwing for two more TDs, both in the final four minutes with the game on the line.

After McConnell's scoring reception with 3:06 to play, Crittenden stopped a rattled Mayfield offense on four downs and took over at the Cardinal 10. Four plays later, Gray found senior tight end Gaige Courtney in the end zone to put the final nail in Mayfield's coffin.

Gray had scored the game's first touchdown in the closing seconds of the opening quarter, but Mayfield answered in the second period to lead 7-6 at the half. In the final two periods, Crittenden scored on three of its four possessions, including Gray's scoring strike to McConnell, which broke a 14-14 tie and gave the Rockets the lead for good.

Crittenden running back Rodney Robertson was back in the lineup after breaking his hand three weeks earlier against Lone Oak. While Robertson carried the ball nine times for 31 yards, his return was an inspiration to the entire team. On defense, Robertson went back to his linebacking slot – and played some at nose guard – and helped the Rockets hold Mayfield to just 108 yards rushing, throwing the Cardinals for a loss or no gain eight times. The secondary was just as strong, breaking up several passes as Mayfield QB Luke Guhy threw for 82 yards by completing half of a dozen passes. Crittenden linebacker Dyllan Thornton intercepted one pass for the game's only turnover.

The victory sets up a major showdown between Crittenden and Ballard Memorial on Oct. 10 at Marion for the Rockets' homecoming game. Mayfield came from behind to beat Ballard two weeks ago and the Bombers knocked of Fulton City this week to go 2-1 in the district. The Rockets, at 3-2 overall and 2-0 in league play, can virtually wrap up the title with a win over Ballard in two weeks.

Pictured above is QB J.D. Gray (14) rushing during the first half as Gaige Courtney (28) comes over to provide some blocking.

Crittenden 6 0 8 13
Mayfield 0 7 0 7

CC-J.D. Gray 14 run (kick blocked) :15, 1st
M-Tyreese Murrell 9 run (Marc Wystrata kick) 5:53, 2nd
CC-Gray 26 run (Gray run) 8:17, 3rd
M-Murrell 1 run (Wystrata kick) 6:30, 4th
CC-Dustin McConnell 44 pass from Gray (Adams kick) 3:06, 4th
CC-Gaige Courtney 8 pass from Gray (kick blocked) :28, 4th

First Downs: Crittenden 8, Mayfield 9
Penalties: Crittenden 3-20, Mayfield 3-25
Fumbles/Lost: Crittenden 0-0, Mayfield 2-0
Rushing: 36-205, Mayfield 37-108
Passing: Crittenden 6-10-0, 66 yds., Mayfield 6-12-1, 82 yds.
Total Yards: Crittenden 291, Mayfield 190

Crittenden: J.D. Gray 20-157, Rodney Robertson 9-31, Gaige Courtney 6-13, Brian Berry 1-4. Mayfield: Tyreese Murrell 21-115, Eric Noonan 4-13, Matthew Schultz 4-12, Jarrod Noonan 2-8, Joseph Robertson 1-(-5), Luke Guhy 5-(-35).
Crittenden: Gray 6-10-0, 66 yds. Mayfield: Guhy 6-12-1, 82 yds.
Crittenden: Dustin McConnell 1-44, Courtney 4-19, Josh Urbanowski 1-3.Mayfield: Gary Walton 2-42, J.Noonan 1-30, Xavier Shelton 4-19.
Aaron Berry 5 solos, 4 assists, TFL, sack; Brian Berry 5 solos, 6 assists; Clark 3 solos, 3 assists, TFL, sack; Copeland solo; Courtney 3 solos, 8 assists; Freeman 2 solos, 4 asssists, TFL, caused fumble; Gray 3 solos, 4 assists; McConnell 4 solos, assist; Pluskota solo, assist, sack; Robertson solo, 2 assists; Thornton 2 solos, 4 assists, TFL, interception; Urbanowski solo, 9 assists; Werne 6 solos, 4 assists, TFL.
Records: Crittenden 3-2 (2-0), Mayfield 1-3 (1-1).