Friday, November 16, 2018

Rocket season ends 26-21 in quarterfinals

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – It was an epic season for first-year coach Sean Thompson, his 13 seniors and a Rocket football team that lost only twice in 13 weeks. Yet in the end, it was a Campbellsville junior who stopped the magical fall run.

Campbellsville’s Malachi Corley was the go-to guy when the host Eagles needed big plays down the stretch in a Class A state quarterfinal battle between the No. 5 and No. 6 teams in the state. Corley and Campbellsville prevailed 26-21, but the Rockets poured every ounce of energy into the game’s full 48 minutes.

Thompson, the first Crittenden County alumnus to be head coach of the Rockets, praised his boys for their accomplishments. He told them in a post-game speech that they had united a community, captured the imagination of football fans young and old and had become one of those Rocket football teams that undoubtedly go down in the annals of CCHS football lore.
The Boone Brothers share a
moment after the loss.

“We won like men all year. This is the hard part. We have got do this like men, too,” Thompson said. “Good things in life end, but this is one of greatest seasons Crittenden County has ever had.”

As a throng of parents, fellow students and fans gathered around as the Rockets on the field after the heartbreaking loss, Thompson spoke to his team with emotion and passion.

“Look around you, look at what ya’ll did. Y’all did this. Be proud of that,” he said, pointing to the massive crowd of Rocket fans who drove three hours to the game. The CCHS fans outnumbered the host fans 2-to-1.

Thompson challenged his underclassmen to continue putting the work necessary to regain same magic that this year produced 11 victories, tying the second most in a single season ever.

The game was tight from start to finish. Campbellsville scored late in the second period to lead 7-0 at the break. The teams combined for 11 punts in a first half that was virtually a stalemate, other than on the scoreboard.

The Eagles took the second half kickoff and marched down field for their only sustained drive of the game. Senior running back Charlie Pettigrew punched it in from 14 yards. That 14-point margin disappeared quickly as Rocket senior Devon Nesbitt scored on a six-yard run and classmate Payton Riley caught a nine-yard pass from senior quarterback Hunter Boone to start the final quarter. Riley had recovered a fumbled punt a few plays earlier to set up that touchdown pass – Boone’s first of two scoring strikes in the game despite struggles against Campbellsvile secondary and a steady rush that afforded him precious little time in the pocket. 

Corley – one of the most heralded juniors in the state who’s drawing attention of Division I teams like Duke – took the Eagles on his shoulders the fourth quarter, scoring twice more. Once on a 73-yard kickoff return then again on a tackle-breaking 47-yard run.

With the Rockets’ backs against the wall, trialing 26-14 with less than a minute to play, Boone struck again. This time finding his sophomore brother, Tyler Boone, over the middle. After the catch, Tyler Boone dodged, dipped, leapt over and outran the entire Eagle defense en route to the end zone. That brought the Rockets to within five, but a last-ditch onside kick was successfully covered by Campbellsville and the Eagles were able to run out the final 41 seconds in victory formation.

“Last year they thrashed us. This year they snuck away,” Thompson said, pointing to Crittenden’s 44-8 loss in 2017 to the Eagles in the same round of the playoffs – the regional championship game.

Nesbitt, who has gained the nickname Mr. Six for his record-setting career touchdown mark, finishes his career as the third most prolific running back in school history, just 26 yards behind No. 2 all-time, Ronnie Moss. Boone has shattered nearly every passing record in his career as a three-year starter and senior Ethan Dossett has done the same in receiving numbers. It has unquestionably been a storybook – and record book – run for the Rockets.

Campbellsville will advance to play Beechwood next week in the state semifinal round.

Crittenden Co. 0 0 7 14
Campbellsville 0 7 7 12

Camp-Malachi Corley 15 run (Mark Rigsby kick) 2:33, 2nd
Camp-Charlie Pettigrew 14 run (Rigsby kick) 7:45, 3rd
Critt-Devon Nesbitt 6 run (Parker Johnson kick) 4:58, 3rd
Critt-Payton Riley 9 pass from Hunter Boone (Johnson kick) 10:02, 4th
Camp-Corley 73 kickoff return (kick failed) 9:48, 4th
Camp-Corley 47 run (run failed) 4:58, 4th
Critt-Tyler Boone 59 pass from H.Boone (Johnson kick) :41, 4th

First Downs: Crittenden 10, Campbellsville 8
Penalties: Crittenden 6-62, Campbellsville 7-40
Rushing: Crittenden 42-186, Campbellsville 35-180
Passing: Crittenden 3-21-3, 78 yds., Campbellsville 7-16-0, 35 yds.
Total Yards: Crittenden 264, Campbellsville 215
Fumbles/Lost: Crittenden 0-0, Campbellsville 2-1

Crittenden: Nesbitt 34-152, Caden McCalister 2-8, Xander Tabor 2-13, H.Boone 4-13. Campbellsville: Corley 12-94, Pettigrew 13-63, DeaSean VanCleave 4-16, Reggie Thomas 2-1, Blase Wheatley 1-7, Arren Hash 3-(-1).
Crittenden: H.Boone Passing: Crittenden 3-21-3, 78 yds. Campbellsville: Hash 7-16-0, 35 yds.
Crittenden: T.Boone 1-59, Branen Lamey 1-10, Riley 1-9. Campbellsville: VanCleave 3-0, Thomas 2-20, Corley 1-11, Wheatley 1-4.
Dickerson 3 solos, assist, TFL; Dossett 2 assists; Joyce 3 solos, 2 assists; Lamey 3 solos, assist; O’Leary 2 solos, 5 assists; Porter solo; Riley solo, assist, fumble recovery; Guess solo; Jones 4 solos, assist; 2 TFLs; T.Boone 9 solos, 2 assists, 4 TFLs, sack; Easley 3 solos, 3 assists, TFL, sack; McCalister 4 solos, 5 assists; Tabor 6 solos, TFL; Winders 3 solos, assists, TFL.
Players of the Game Offense Devon Nesbitt; Defense Tyler Boone and Xander Tabor; Lineman Jake Gibson.
Records: Crittenden 11-2, Campbellsville 11-1