Friday, September 27, 2013

Rockets fall one short in heart-breaker

MARION, Ky. – It was a tale of two homecomings for senior Travis Gilbert.
QB Travis Gilbert

The Rocket quarterback threw for a career-high 144 yards – certainly something to celebrate. He also collected his third interception of the season at cornerback. 

Under normal conditions, that would be plenty to dance about. However, his and the Rockets' post-game party was marred by a gut-wrenching loss to non-district Class 6A opponent Muhlenberg County Friday night. 

The Mustangs (4-2) came from behind in the fourth period to score the winning touchdown with eight minutes to play. Still, Gilbert and Co. fired a few valiant shots in the waning moments, but couldn't' prevail in Muhlenberg's 13-12 victory.


Crittenden's passing attack was as sharp as it's been in recent years. The Rockets took advantage of soft coverage on the corners to gain much of their receiving yards. With the game on the line in the closing minutes, however, the short stuff wasn't enough, and when Gilbert went over the middle on a fourth-and-seven pass with 24 seconds to play, Muhlenberg picked it off. It was an unfitting way for Gilbert's fine performance to end.

"Travis threw the ball well," Rocket coach Al Starnes said.

The skipper said his team grew up a bit against Muhlenberg County despite the loss, perhaps learning that it has a more fight than some believe. 

"We improved tonight," Starnes said, "but mistakes hurt us. Some of it was youth and some of it was inexperience, but mistakes cost us the ball game."

What will loom large in Rocket fans' minds is a low snap on an extra point after Crittenden scored its first touchdown in the first period. A 75-yard drive had culminated with a three-yard touchdown run by Lane Wallace, answering Muhlenberg's opening score on its first series of the game.
Nick Castiller lunges for yards after a catch.

Gilbert, the holder for extra points, gathered the snap off the turf, but couldn't get it down in time for kicker Micah Hollamon – who is basically automatic on point-afters. Gilbert quickly rose up and tried to run with the ball, but couldn't escape the oncoming Mustangs. 

Crittenden trailed 7-6, and the margin hadn't changed at game's end.

Two possessions later, the Rockets drove downfield thanks largely to passes from Gilbert to Noah Dickerson and Daniel Wagoner. Wallace finished the drive with a short run and Crittenden chose to try for a two-point conversion to make up for the previous missed opportunity. Gilbert had Wagoner wide open in the back corner of the end zone, but a Muhlenberg defender recovered just in time to get between the receiver and the ball and it fell incomplete. Starnes and others on the Rocket sideline cried that the defender was guilty of face-guarding. The line judge didn't agree and there was no call.

Starnes said that particular play was also a key factor in the game. However, he also pointed to missed blocks and other fundamental breakdowns that contributed to what he called a tough loss against a "pretty good football team."

The Mustangs came into the matchup with one of the highest scoring offenses in Class 6A and their quarterback Chase Deason had turned in several big rushing performances this year, including one game with more than 200 yards.

Crittenden's defense held the Mustangs' option running attack in check. Fumble recoveries by Brenden Phillips and Travis Fitzgerald helped stymie Muhlenberg drives, as did interceptions by Alex Cosby and Gilbert.

Muhlenberg County     7    0    0    6
Crittenden County        6    6    0    0

M-Anthony Mason 38 run (Nick Huff kick) 9:17, 1st
C-Lane Wallace 3 run (run failed) 3:53, 1st
C-Wallace 1 run (pass failed) 5:40, 2nd
Alex Cosby's fourth-quarter interception.
M-Andrew Wright 19 run (kick blocked) 8:07, 4th

First Downs: Crittenden 9, Muhlenberg 11
Penalties: 3-15, Muhlenberg 4-29
Rushing: Crittenden 32-70, Muhlenberg 36-255
Passing: Crittenden 23-35-1, 144 yds, Muhlenberg 2-9-2, 15 yds.
Total Yards: Crittenden 214, Muhlenberg 270
Fumbles/Lost: Crittenden 0-0, Muhlenberg 3-2

Crittenden: Wallace 23-63, Maeson Myers 2-0, Brenden Phillips 1-0, Noah Dickerson 2-9, Travis Gilbert 4-(-2). Muhlenberg: Ryan Pulliam 7-33, Andrew Vaught 10-96, Anthony Mason 6-49, Neil Kirkpatrick 5-46, Chase Deason 8-31. 
Crittenden: Gilbert 23-34-1, 144 yds., Dickerson 0-1-0. Muhlenberg Deason 2-9-2, 15 yds.
Crittenden: Dickerson 8-56, Daniel Wagoner 5-40, Nick Castiller 3-24, Brenden Phillips 3-15, Wallace 3-5, Alex Cosby 1-4. Muhlenberg: Kirkpatrict 1-8, Maurice Clay 1-7.
Gilbert 3 solos, interception; Phillips 5 solos, 4 assists, fumble recovery; Tinsley 6 solos, assist, TFL; Wagoner 2 solos, 3 assists; Dickerson 6 solos, 2 assists, 2 TFL; Greenwell solo; Wallace 5 solos, 5 assists; Castiller 5 solos, 2 assists; Cosby 4 solos, assist, interception; Fitzgerald 2 solos, 2 assists, fumble recovery; A.McKinney 2 solos, caused fumble; T.McKinney 2 solos, 3 assists; Myers solo, 2 assists.
Players of the Game: Offense Travis Gilbert, Defense Noah Dickerson, Lineman Travis Fitzgerald.
Records: Crittenden 3-2, Muhlenberg 4-2