Friday, October 18, 2019

Rockets stay the course in comeback at Fulton County

Xander Tabor rushed for 212 yards in the victory.
HICKMAN, Ky. – In the face of adversity, Crittenden County’s football team remained as calm as a surgeon and left Fulton County Friday night with a 30-12 victory that ensures the Rockets home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

The Class A First District win at Fulton County also sets up a showdown with Russellville next week at Rocket Stadium where Crittenden can win its third straight regular-season district championship. The Panthers beat Caverna 50-0 in district action Friday at Russellville. 

Crittenden and Russellville are both 2-0 in league play at this point.

The horizon wasn’t always as bright and clear. In the early stages of Friday’s game at Fulton County, the Pilots appeared qualified to challenge Crittenden’s recent dominance. The Rockets came into the matchup with a 16-game winning streak over the Pilots and hadn’t trailed Fulton at halftime since 1995, but the hosts struck first.

Kentucky Class A’s top rusher Caleb Kimble went 57 yards on the first play from scrimmage to give the hosts the game’s initial lead. It was an advantage they gave away for a time then regained in the second period. Fulton led 12-7 at the half despite Kimble going down with an injury after being tackled when he caught a pass four minutes into the second quarter. On that play, Crittenden defensive lineman Lathan Easley was flagged for targeting and ejected from the game. It wouldn’t be the last player the Rockets would lose.

Crittenden appeared to have gathered some momentum right before Kimble was hurt, but couldn’t hold it as Fulton changed the pace of the contest with its backup running back D’Avian Bradley carrying the ball in Kimble’s absence. 

Freshman Preston Morgeson gains ground after
catching a pass in the first half.
Kimble recovered and returned for the second half, but he was held in check by the Rocket defense. The senior Pilot running back had averaged more than 170 yards per game, but after his opening touchdown run, Crittenden bottled him up. He finished with 63 yards on the ground. 

Despite the defense playing rock solid – holding the Pilots to just 108 yards of offense and no first downs in the second half – there were hardships. Losing its nose guard (Easley) was just one of them. Heralded junior linebacker Tyler Boone went out with a hip injury in the second period and didn’t play another down. Senior defensive back Justin Phillips left the game with a hand injury before halftime, and in the second half another defensive back, senior Travis Guess, was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct along with the Pilots’ Devin Turner because of a scuffle away from the ball late in the fourth period.

While misfortune seemed to swell around the Rockets, their composure remained steadfast, particularly when backup quarterback Luke Crider came into the game to spell starter Hunter Jones, who struggled a bit. Crider, getting his first meaningful opportunity behind center, guided the Rockets to three unanswered touchdowns in the second half, two on passing plays.

“Coach (Sean) Thompson had confidence in me and I had confidence in what he’s taught me,” said Crider, a sophomore, who finished with 69 yards on 5-of-7 passing.

The Rocket coach said his confidence has indeed grown in Crider’s ability to lead the offense.

“When we made the switch his eyes got big, but in a good way,” Thompson said. “It wasn’t one of those things where the moment was too big for him. It was like, ‘Why have you waited so long.’ So, yes, I am very confident in him.”

Crittenden running back Xander Tabor rushed for 212 yards. It was the second time in three games that he’s eclipsed the 200-yard mark – a feat that has been accomplished just eight times in school history.

Crittenden 7 0 14 9
Fulton Co. 6 6 0 0

F-Caleb Kimble 57 run (kick failed) 11:50, 1st
C-Hunter Jones 1 run (Noah Perkins kick) 9:00, 1st
F-Devin Turner 14 pass from Jerome Warren (pass failed) 2:21, 2nd
C-Xander Tabor 13 run (Perkins kick) 5:53, 3rd
C-Caden McCalister 36 pass from Luke Crider (Perkins kick) :29, 3rd
C-Tabor 9 pass from Crider (Perkins kick) 7:25, 4th
C-Safety :11, 4th

First Downs: Crittenden 15, Fulton 7
Penalties: Crittenden 5-45, Fulton 11-70
Rushing: Crittenden 37-225, Fulton 31-89
Passing: 11-17-0, 133 yds., Fulton 4-8-0, 19 yds.
Total Yards: Crittenden 358, Fulton 108
Fumbles/Lost: Crittenden 1-1, Fulton 0-0

Crittenden: Tabor 25-212, Tyler Boone 2-5, Braxton Winders 1-0, McCalister 2-8, Jones 6-10, Crider 1-(-10). Fulton: Kimble 13-63, D’Avian Bradley 11-51, Warren 7-(-25).
Crittenden: Crider 5-7-0, 69 yds., Jones 5-9-0, 38 yds., Tabor 1-1-0, 26 yds. Fulton: Warren 4-8-0, 19 yds.
Crittenden: Preston Turley 6-71, Preston Morgeson 1-18, Tabor 2-7, McCalister 2-37.
Gobin assist; Phillips 2 solos, 3 assists; Boone 7 solos, 2 assists, 5 TFLs, caused fumble; Ellington 2 solos, 3 assists, sack; McCalister 9 solos, 4 assists, TFL; McGowan 5 solos, 3 assists, caused fumble; Tabor 3 solos; Turley solo, assist, sack; Winders 3 solos, assist; Carlson 5 assists; Derrington assist; Mundy solo; Yates 6 solos; Morgeson assist. 
Players of the Game
Defense Noah McGowan. Offense Luke Crider and Xander Tabor. Lineman Dylan Yates. Special Teams Noah Perkins.
Records: Crittenden 6-2 (2-0), Fulton 5-3 (0-2)