Friday, September 28, 2012

Rockets speared by Marshall's late passing

DRAFFENVILLE, Ky. – Truth is, this one hurt.

Marshall County's offense – stymied for more than 42 minutes – delivered the equivalent of a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to sorely disappoint the upset-minded Rockets 15-2 Friday at Draffenville.
Most of the action Friday night played out in the trenches.

A knock-down-drag-out brawl turned into a foot race in the final six minutes as both teams aborted their conservative offensive game plans and went deeper into the playbook as they tried desperately to find an edge. it was Marshall that found the right combination.

Crittenden's defense had grabbed a 2-0 lead in the opening seconds of the game and that margin stood until 5:53 left when Marshall quarterback Clay Allen finally picked a receiver who could hang onto the football. He'd watched others drop several passes earlier in the game. However, two straight completions to senior split end Noah Steele accomplished something neither team had managed to that point. The passes piled up yards in a hurry. 

Steele caught two balls on fly routes down the Rocket sideline for gains of 50 and 28 yards to set up Nolan Nichols' two-yard touchdown, giving his team its first lead of the game. Another passing play on the conversion put Marshall ahead 8-2 and the bull-headed stalemate was broken.

Rocket QB Travis Gilbert (14) hands off to fullback Brenden
Phillips (20), who finished with 23 yards rushing.
The Rockets had controlled the tempo the entire way, and for the most part, had held superior field position. Those two aerial strikes were the difference in the game. A few inches of separation from the Rocket defensive backs provided game-breakers.

Although Marshall had the momentum after taking the lead, Critenden willed itself back into contention with an offensive series that featured a couple of Travis Gilbert passes to Bobby Knox – one on a key fourth-down play to keep the drive alive.

It was Knox that Gilbert was looking for on another fourth-down try 12 yards from the goal line. However, Knox slipped on his route against singular coverage on the right end and Gilbert checked down to his next receiver, Grant Gardner over the middle. Gardner was covered well by linebacker Jaime Gilland – Marshall's best defender, who batted down the pass.

Gilland played the game with a serious knee injury. He's the team's offensive catalyst, too, and was brought in from time to time to run the ball, but played mostly on defense. 

"We had the call we wanted on that play with Bobby against man coverage," Rocket coach Al Starnes said. "He just slipped."

Rain earlier in the day had made the field somewhat slick.

When that last Rocket pass hit the ground, incomplete, Crittenden's spirits came crashing down, too. It was an emotional fist to the gut. A couple of plays later, Gilland snapped a 64-yard run for a touchdown with seconds to go in the game. A long play like that was impossible for more than three periods.

"It was a very emotional loss," Starnes said. "They're a 6A school and our kids really believed they could get this win. It was my fault. I called a bad game and I take responsibility."

Starnes' team had played near perfectly on defense until the final stretch. Marshall had managed only one first down and no positive yards in the first half. 

"We knew they were tough defensively," Starnes said. "But we were able to control the clock early. That long pass gave them the momentum."

Starnes said his team will need to regroup this week and get ready for Murray, a tough Class 2A district opponent and the Rockets' homecoming game.

Crittenden County    2    0    0     0
Marshall County       0    0    0    15

CC-Safety Stephon Cozart sack, 5:53, 1st
MC-Nolan Nichols 2 run (Dalton Riley pass from Clay Allen) 5:53, 4th
MC-Jaime Gilland 64 run (Brock Herndon kick) :34, 4th

First Downs: Crittenden 9, Marshall 6
Penalties: Crittenden 1-15, Marshall 3-25
Rushing: Crittenden 38-93, Marshall 27-119
Passing: Crittenden 10-18-0, 88 yds., Marshall 5-12-1, 91 yds.
Total Yards: Crittenden 181, Marshall 210
Fumles/Lost: Crittenden 1-0, Marshall 3-0

Crittenden: Grant Gardner 21-67, Brenden Phillips 9-23, Lane Wallace 3-2, Zach Tinsley 2-5, Travis Gilbert 3-(-4). Marshall: Gilland 5-80, Nichols 14-46, Tycen Henry 2-4, Hardin Cosner 1-0, Allen 5-(-11).
Crittenden: Gilbert 10-18-0, 88 yds. Marshall: Allen 5-11-1, 91 yds., Nolan 0-1-0.
Crittenden: Bobby Knox 4-62, Phillips 1-2, Gardner 3-10, Clint Asbridge 1-12, Noah Dickerson 1-2. Marshall: Noah Steele 2-78, Gilland 2-11, Dalton Greenfield 1-2.

Asbridge 2 solos, Bebout 3 solos, 4 assists, TFL; Clark 5 solos, assist, TFL; Cozart 6 solos, 2 TFL, 2 sacks; Gaston solo; Knox 6 solos, 6 assists; McDowell assist; Gilbert solo, interception; Phillips 2 solos, 6 assists; Wagoner 5 solos, 2 assists, TFL; Dickerson 2 solos; Wallace 2 solos, TFL; Hollis assist.
Pizza Hut Players of the Game
Defense Knox, Offense Gilbert, Lineman Cozart, Special Teams Dickerson.
Records: Crittenden 3-3, Marshall 4-2
Rocket defensive lineman Devin Clark latches onto the leg of Marshall
running back Jaime Gilland in the second half.