Saturday, August 25, 2012

Gardner top warrior in 21-6 bowl victory

Grant Gardner (24) stays in touch with his blocker Stephon
Cozart (74) during a gain against Hopkins Central.
MARION, Ky. – The Rocket coaching staff was looking for a workhorse and found a running back with the disposition of a mule – a bit slower than a thoroughbred but prepared for toils of the field.

Senior Grant Gardner carried the ball 33 times for 216 yards and was named Warrior of the Game for the National Guard Warrior Bowl as Crittenden County beat Hopkins Central 21-6 in a contest that wasn't as close a the score indicated.

The Rockets dominated the second straight season-opening bowl game against Hopkins Central, controlling the clock on offense with sustained drives and its defense eliminated The Storm's hopes of running the ball. Crittenden held Hopkins Central to just 32 yards on the ground and although the secondary gave up 103 yards passing, it wasn't nearly enough to give The Storm any momentum. 

Crittenden intercepted Storm sophomore QB Austin Franklin three times with Gardner, Brenden Phillips and Bobby Knox each picking off passes. Knox got his with 5:11 to go in the game, effectively shutting down any chance Hopkins Central had of mounting a late comeback.

Hopkins Central's only scoring drive came on the first series of the second half thanks to two long passes that set up Isaac Dunlap's two-yard rushing touchdown to pull within 14-7.

The Rockets answered immediately with a 10-minute drive as Gardner carried the ball eight times for 38 yards, including a four-yard run into the end zone. It was his second touchdown of the evening. Gardner also caught a pass for 12 yards in the game.

With starting fullback Brenden Phillips playing a very limited role because a bad case of turf toe and backup halfback Zach Tinsley on the shelf with a bad leg, Crittenden needed an opening-night performance from Gardner that could carry the team to victory. It got that and more.

Crittenden's Dylan Hollis (39) brings down Hopkins Central's
Terrance Minor (1) after an 8-yard reception.
"I just wanted to send a message that it's time to buckle up and go… time to get this show on the road," Gardner said. "I figured I was going to get the ball a lot, but I really didn't figure on getting it 33 times."

Despite some cramps and stomach issues during the game, Gardner gutted it out and earned his stripes with the best performance of his career.

The Rockets will need Gardner in similar form and other running backs healthy when they travel to Cadiz for a bowl game next week against Trigg County. The Rockets will play the Wildcats in the second contest of a bowl doubleheader. Kickoff is expected around 8 p.m. Hopkinsville and Greenwood play the opener starting at 5:30 p.m.

Hopkins Central   0   0   6   0
Crittenden Co.      7   7   7   0

CC-Grant Gardner 8 run (Micah Hollamon kick), 6:01, 1st
CC-Brenden Phillips 5 run (Hollamon kick) :26, 2nd
HC-Isaac Dunlap 2 run (pass failed) 9:44, 3rd
CC-Gardner 4 run (Hollamon kick) 1:24, 3rd

First Downs: Crittenden 17, Hopkins Central 6
Penalties: Crittenden 6-40, Hopkins Central 5-40
Rushing: Crittenden 50-236, Hopkins Central 17-32
Passing: Crittenden 5-9-1, 44 yds., Hopkins Central 12-21-3, 103 yds.
Total Yards: Crittenden 280, Hopkins Central 135
Fumbles/Lost: Crittenden 3-1, Hopkins Central 1-0

Crittenden-Gardner 33-216, Phillips 4-15, Dylan Hollis 4-7, Jacob Young 3-7, Clint Asbridge 1-7, Bobby Knox 1-0, Travis Gilbert 4-(-16). Hopkins Central-Austin Franklin 9-24, Dunlap 6-6, Jesse Cavanaugh 1-2, Ish Foster 10.
Crittenden-Gilbert 5-9-1, 44 yds. Hopkins Central-Franklin 12-21-3, 103 yds.
Crittenden-Asbridge 2-15, Hollis 1-15, Gardner 1-12, Knox 1-2. Hopkins Central-Dunlap 4-43, Chris Campbell 4-39, Cavanaugh 2-4, Terrence Minor 1-8, Logan Franklin 1-9.
Asbridge 2 solos, caused fumble; Bebout 3 solos, assist, 3 TFL; Clark 2 solos, 2 assists, TFL; Cozart 6 solos, assist; Gardner 3 solos, assist, TFL, interception; Knox 4 solos, assist, interception; McDowell 2 solos; Overfield solo; Gilbert 2 solos; Phillips 4 solos, TFL, interception; Wagoner 2 solos, assist; Dickerson 2 solos; Stone solo; Young solo, assist; Hollis solo.

Pizza Hut Players of the Game
Defense Cozart, Offense Gardner, Lineman Bebout, Special Teams Hollamon.
Crittenden 1-0, Hopkins Central 0-2