Friday, October 30, 2020

Rockets edged by one point at Henderson

Caden McCalister and Noah McGowan
converge on Henderson's Jaheim Williams.

HENDERSON, Ky. –  After four straight games of floating peacefully on a running clock, the waves got a little choppier for the Rockets at Henderson Friday night.

Yet Crittenden County demonstrated the seaworthiness of its vessel, taking one of the top teams in Kentucky’s Class 6A to the wire before losing 10-9 on the road.

A blocked extra point in the first half and an interception in the closing minutes allowed the seventh-ranked Colonels to escape from a battle they likely didn’t expect. Henderson’s coach was clearly impressed with the Class A sixth-ranked Rockets.

Henderson's players and coaches didn't expect this... READ HENDERSON NEWSPAPER ARTICLE HERE

“Hands down to these guys. They’re doing the right things, they play the game the right way. They play a physical brand of football,” said Colonel coach Josh Boston.

The Rockets made such an impression on the skipper that he came down to their end of the field following the game and iterated more of the same. He predicted the Rockets would make considerable noise in Class A football’s playoffs.

For Crittenden, which indeed has its sights set on a deep run in the postseason, playing at Henderson was – from the outset – more than a sacrificial appearance against a school more than four times its size. Winning was on the agenda, and CCHS nearly pulled it off.

QB Luke Crider threw for 164 yards.

“I don’t really believe in moral victories. I think it was great for us to play a good team,” said junior Rocket lineman Dylan Yates, who had three sacks. “We had been beating teams by a lot lately so it was good for us to get into a dog fight. I’m only satisfied with a win, but it got us better.”

Indeed. Crittenden (6-2) had its six-game winning streak snapped by the Colonels (5-1) after the Rockets had blown out Trigg County, Caverna, Fulton County and Russellville in consecutive weeks. Those lopsided wins came on the heels of two substantial victories over Union County and Murray. 

The Rockets had not been tested in several weeks, and CCHS coach Sean Thompson knew his team needed a game that would build character – win or lose. That’s why the Rockets scheduled Henderson County when Todd Central – the game that was supposed to played on this particular week – had to revamp its own schedule because of the pandemic.

“We came here with the mentality that we belonged on the field. We were not looking for moral victories,” said Thompson. “Our kids came out tonight and learned a valuable lesson, and that lesson is that we now know what it will be like late in playoffs if we get the opportunity to be there. We’re battled tested now after playing a really good Henderson County football team that has been very successful this year. They are a big, physical team.”

Henderson's defensive front posed a serious challenge for the Rocket running game, which was also shorthanded after starting running back Xander Tabor broke his ankle the previous week and is out for the season. There was not much running room between the tackles. Crittenden managed just 52 yards rushing, but quarterback Luke Crider stretched the Colonel secondary for 164 yards and a touchdown pass. Much of his success came early. Henderson brought extreme pressure late in the game when the Rockets needed a touch of magic to pull off the upset. Instead, sacks and that interception stymied the offense in the fourth period.

The Rockets had the ball on Henderson’s 23-yard line with just over three minutes to play, but couldn’t find a way to score the go-ahead touchdown. On fourth down and 11, Henderson picked off the pass intended for tight end Preston Turley, who collided with a defender with the ball in the air, knocking him off the route. 

Crittenden’s defense – which held the state’s leading rushing team in the largest classification to half its normal yardage – gave the offense one more chance in the waning seconds. But, pinned deep in its own territory, the Rockets couldn’t muster anything significant against Henderson’s pressing defense that sacked the Rocket QB once and forced three incomplete passes with heavy pressure in the backfield.

The meeting was the first in 57 years between Crittenden County and Henderson County. 

Right now, Crittenden County does not have a game for next Friday because its scheduled opponent, Paducah Tilghman, is having to reshuffle its schedule because of COVID-19 issues. Thompson said he’s working on finding an opponent. 

Crittenden Co. 3 6 0 0
Henderson Co. 3 7 0 0

C-Noah Perkins 27 field goal 7:29, 1st
H-Colton Evans 41 field goal 4:46, 1st
H-Edmund Brooks 6 run (Evans kick) 1:47, 2nd
C-Kaleb Nesbitt 70 pass from Luke Crider (kick blocked) 1:28, 2nd

First Downs: CCHS 9, HCHS 10
Penalties: CCHS 2-10, HCHS 7-55
Rushing: CCHS 33-52, HCHS 36-174
Passing: CCHS 11-24-2, 164, HCHS 7-14-1, 33 
Total Yards: CCHS 216, HCHS 207
Fumbles/Lost: CCHS 1-1, HCHS 2-2


Crittenden: Caden McCalister 17-31, Braxton Winders 9-55, Crider 7-(-34). Henderson: Jaheim Williams 6-53, Jordan Wright 10-18, Brooks 3-71, Ben Dalton 17-32.
Crittenden: Crider 11-23-2, 164 yds., Winders 0-1-0. Henderson: Dalton 7-14-1, 33 yds.
Crittenden: McCalister 2-12, Preston Morgeson 2-40, Preston Turley 3-24, Nesbitt 2-79, Brysen Baker 1-7, Tyler Boone 1-2. Henderson: Brooks 2-2, Braden Coleman 3-29, Wright 2-2.
Noah McGowan 4 solos, 2 assists, TFL, sack; Preston Turley solo, 3 assist; Noah Perkins assist, fumble recovery; Ben Dobyns solo, assist; Braxton Winders 2 solos; Tyler Boone 12 solos, 9 assists, 4 TFLs, 2 caused fumbles; Caden McCalister 6 solos, 6 assists, fumble recovery; Lathen Easley 2 solos, assist; Coleman Stone solo; Luke Mundy 5 solos; Trace Derrington 3 solos, interception; Dylan Yards 7 solos, assists 2 TFLs, 3 sacks, caused fumble; Logan Bailey 4 solos; Seth Guess solo, assist. 
Records: Crittenden 6-2, Henderson 5-1