Friday, September 30, 2011

Rockets looking to recover lucky charm

MARION, Ky. – Somewhere there's a blue rabbit's foot with Al Starnes' name on it.

Just out of reach .... was this pass intended for Travis Gilbert (14),
and so was the game as Crittenden lost by five points.
If you find it, please return to Crittenden County High School. Because without the lucky charm, misfortune continues to haunt his Rockets. The bad luck continued Friday night as Crittenden missed an opportunity to beat a much bigger opponent, Class 6A Marshall County (4-2). The Marshals prevailed 15-10.

Crittenden County (2-4) – hobbled by injuries and other personnel issues early this season – finally had virtually everyone back for the non-district matchup against Marshall. Finally, all cylinders would be in motion, Starnes and his coaching staff thought.

Then, it was as if a black cat darted in front of the Rockets' path.

Crittenden fumbled on the game's second play, giving Marshall an easy first touchdown on a short field. The next series, Rocket quarterback Bryce Willis had a screen pass batted errantly into the air on a crucial third-down play deep in his own territory. Willis – in a rare action – caught the ball himself, but was tackled for a 14-yard loss.

A short punt later and Marshall County was given another golden opportunity from the Rocket 35. Marshall quarterback Chase Clark responded with a scoring pass to Casey White. The duo matched up for six receptions and 94 yards in the game, but their team wouldn't score again.

"We spotted them 15 points then buckled up our chin straps and got after them," Starnes said.

However, the damage was already done on the scoreboard, and there would be more tragedy in the form of wounded flesh. 
Rocket Stephon Cozart (74) takes down Marshall
County's QB as Devin Clark (54) comes in to assist.
Not long after Crittenden closed to within 15-7 on Dustin Hernandez's 82-yard kickoff return, the Rockets lost one of its offensive arms. The team's second-leading rusher, Grant Gardner, ran to the sideline pointing to his shoulder. He was taken to the hospital for X-rays, which proved negative for anything real serious. Yet, he played just two more downs the entire game. 

"If Grant doesn't go down, I think it's a different ball game," Starnes said. "But our kids played their hearts out.

"You have to give credit to Marshall County. Their defense controlled us. They are big and aggressive, and that's about all you can say."

Gardner rushed for 41 yards on just three carries and caught a pass for 16 yards – a total of 57 yards. That was half of the total net yards Crittenden's offense provided in the game.

In the end, mistakes – including two fumbles – spelled doom for the Rockets. Starnes said the offense was out of sync most of the game, and with Gardner sidelined, it made matters worse.

Willis completed half of his 10 passes, but the Rocket QB netted just two yards in the air. He rushed for four. Hernandez finished with 65 yards on 11 carries to lead an offense stymied by the Marshals.

Still, Crittenden was in the game to the final two minutes.

"We had a chance there at the end, but couldn't capitalize," Starnes said.

Crittenden's defense, which played extraordinarily well the entire game, stopped Marshall on downs at the Rocket 32 with 3:13  to play. Hernandez ran 13 yards for a first down. A play later, Willis was sacked and fumbled with 2:15 to go. From there, Marshall ran out the clock using running back Nathan Anderson to carry the ball time after time. 

Anderson had 25 yards at the half, but finished with 89. He carried the ball 19 times the last half as the Marshals ground it out in the fourth period. Marshall finished with 16 first downs, nine the second half. Crittenden had just five the entire game.

Crittenden, 2-4 overall and 1-0 in the district, plays at Class 2A district opponent Murray next week.

Marshall Co.     15    0    0   0
Crittenden Co.   7     3    0   0

MC-Hardin Cosner 2 run (Chase Clark run) 7:37, 1st
MC-Casey White 36 pass from Clark (Noah Steele kick) 5:01, 1st
CC-Dustin Hernandez 82 kickoff return, 2:46, 2nd
CC-Micah Hollamon 28 field goal, 2;46, 2nd

First Downs: Crittenden 5, Marshall 16
Penalties: Crittenden 1-15, Marshall 6-58
Rushing: Crittenden 25-114, Marshall 47-174
Passing: Crittenden 5-10-0, 2 yds., Marshall 11-19-1, 140 yds.
Total Yards: Crittenden 116, Marshall 314
Fumbles/Lost: Crittenden 3-2, Marshall 1-1

Crittenden-Hernandez 11-65, Grant Gardner 3-41, Bryce Willis 9-4, Brenden Phillips 2-4. Marshall-Nathan Anderson 24-89, Cosner 13-25, Noah Steele 1-44, Casey White 5-10, Clark 4-6.
Crittenden-Willis 5-10-0, 2 yds. Marshall-Clark 10-18-1, 128 yds., Steele 1-1-0, 12 yds.
Crittenden-Gardner 1-16, Phillips 1-5, Hernandez 2-(-5), Willis 1-(-14). Marshall-White 6-94, Chase Buchanan 2-25, Steele 2-17, Chase McClard 1-4.
Asbridge 3 solos; Atwell solo; Bebout 6 solos, 4 assists; Clark 4 solos, 2 assists; Cozart 8 solos, assist, 2 TFL, fumble recovery; Evers 5 solos, 3 assists, TFL; Gardner 3 solos, assist, 2 TFL, caused fumble; Gilbert 2 solos; Hernandez 7 solos, interception; Knox 7 solos, 3 assists, 2 TFL, fumble recovery; Phillips 4 solos, 7 assists; Tinsley solo; Wagoner 4 solos, 5 assists; D.Wallace 8 solos, 3 assists; Willis 4 solos, 4 assists.
Pizza Hut Players of the Game: Offense Grant Gardner, Defense Stephon Cozart, Lineman Devin Wallace, Special Teams Dustin Hernandez.
Records: Crittenden 2-4, Marshall 4-2