Saturday, October 16, 2021

Oddities propel Rockets to win at Fulton County

Coleman Stone breaks the line and heads
toward Fulton County's quarterback.

HICKMAN, Ky. – In what was a rare daytime high school football event, there was a weighted dose of atypical and uncommon events that propelled the Rockets to victory in a pivotal district matchup despite an otherwise conch-like offensive performance at Fulton County.

Inclement weather postponed the typical Friday night encounter until 2 p.m., on Saturday, provoking an arrhythmic presentation by Crittenden County. Still, the Rockets won 36-0, but first-year head coach Gaige Courtney wasn’t overly impressed. In fact, he was a bit frustrated despite his team winning two straight for the first time this season and posting its first shutout of the fall.

“It was just wild. Being a day game… we had a lot of mistakes early. We could list them off, but it would take a while. We just didn’t come out ready to play and take care of business,” said the skipper.

Crittenden misfired in red zone three times in the first half, once fumbling into the end zone where the Pilots recovered for a touchback. For the game, Crittenden piled up 16 first downs and never punted, but failed to convert on fourth-downs seven times in Fulton territory. The Rockets turned the ball over twice on fumbles and once on an interception. Oddly, the interception came right back to the Rockets on the same play when Fulton fumbled it, allowing CCHS to score its last touchdown a few plays later.

In similar vein to the Bethlehem game, after which coach Courtney said it felt at times like his team was winning despite never leading on the scoreboard, this one at Fulton County was the polar opposite. There's no doubt, the coach likely felt as though his boys were losing at times at Fulton. Odd, right?

Zech McGahan and Kaleb Nesbitt stop a 
Fulton County receiver after a catch.
The oddities mounted for Crittenden. Luckily, most leaned in its favor. Cases in point: Senior nose guard Sam Impastato blocked a Pilot punt and returned it for a touchdown. Hard to remember the last time that happened. Then, senior lineman Tucker Sharp recovered a CCHS fumble in the end zone for six points. We have only seen that 13 times in Crittenden's 64-year football history.

While the Rocket offense wore flat the grass between the 30s, its defense was immovable. Fulton County rushed for just 10 net yards and threw for 30. CCHS’s special teams and defense scored two of the Rockets’ five touchdowns. Junior Kaleb Nesbitt’s first-quarter interception and 12-yard return was Crittenden’s only touchdown of the first half as CCHS led 8-0 at the break. Nesbitt had two picks in the game and Trace Derrington had another.

Crittenden's defense sacked the Pilot quarterback four times and threw Fulton for no gain or negative yards on half of its 22 running downs.

Adding to the enigmas, Crittenden scored three times on two-point conversions and missed two PAT kicks. Not something Rocket fans ordinarily see on more traditional Fridays under the lights. The Rockets also dug deep into their offensive playbook when nothing else under the sun was going right, dusting off a seldom-deployed power-I formation in situations other than short yardage. It was a different look with different jersey numbers in the backfield. Seniors Coleman Stone and Impastato got their first career carries out of the power-running alignment with senior Zech McGahan back there blocking. It was a late-season wrinkle unveiled for the first time.

The commitment to running the football paid dividends as CCHS hasn't lost a game this season when it rushed for 200 or more yards. Against Fulton County, sophomore Gattin Travis rushed for 116, his second career effort over 100 yards. CCHS QB Luke Crider rushed for 106, a career-high, but threw for only 30 yards, third lowest in his three-year starting career.

Wild, indeed, as coach Courtney pointed out, but the bottom line is a pass for Crittenden County to now play for a fifth straight First District Class A championship next week when it hosts Russellville. The Panthers are 7-1 and boast Class A football’s best power ranking in KHSAA’s RPI. Russellville’s only loss was to Glasgow, the top RPI-rated team in Class 3A.

“It will be a big test,” Courtney said. “We will have to play a lot better than we played today and fix everything we didn’t do right this week. Russellville is a really good football team.”

Perhaps the Rockets will bring to bear a few more unconventional tricks against the Panthers, a team it’s had to beat the last four years in route to district crowns.

Crittenden 8 0 8 20
Fulton Co. 0 0 0 0

C-Kaleb Nesbitt 12 interception return (Preston Morgeson run) :59, 1st
C-Morgeson 1 run (Logan Bailey pass from Micah Newcom) 3:54, 3rd
C-Luke Crider 1 run (Hayden Adamson pass from Newcom) 9:28, 4th
C-Sam Impastato 24 punt block and return (kick failed) 8:14, 4th
C-Tucker Sharp fumble recovery end zone (kick failed) 4:26, 4th

First Downs: CCHS 16, FCHS 5
Penalties: CCHS 0-0, FCHS 5-24
Rushing: CCHS 46-338, FCHS 22-10
Passing: CCHS 4-17-1, 19; FCHS 7-22-3, 30
Total Yards: CCHS 338, FCHS 40
Fumbles/Lost: CCHS 3-2, FCHS 4-3


CCHS: Gattin Travis 14-116, Crider 11-104, Morgeson 13-90, Coleman Stone 2-7, Impastato 6-21. FCHS: JShon Jones 5-20, Roderick Beard 2-3, Max Gibbs 10-(-1), Damien Hill 5-(-12).
CCHS: Crider 4-17-1, 19 yds. FCHS: Gibbs 7-22-3, 30 yds.
CCHS: Casey Cates 2-11, Bailey 1-4, Morgeson 1-4. FCHS: Dakyran Gossett 5-19, Jones 1-0, Hill 1-7, Jayden Smith 1-4.
Coleman Stone solo, assist, sack; Luke Mundy 5 solos, 3 assist; Trace Derrington solo, TFL, interception; Dylan Yates solo, 2 assists, TFL; Logan Bailey 2 solos, 3 assists, fumble recovery; Tanner Beverly 2 assists; Zech McGahan 4 solos, 2 assists, sack, TFL; Sam Impastato 7 solos, 3 assists, 4 TFLs, 2 sacks, blocked punt, caused fumble, fumble recovery; Case Gobin 3 solos, 5 assists; Kaleb Nesbitt 4 solos, assist, 2 interceptions; Briley Berry 2 solos, assist; Preston Morgeson solo, 2 assists; Gabe Keller solo; Tucker Sharp fumble recovery.
Players of the Game: Offense Gattin Travis, Defense Sam Impastato and Kaleb Nesbitt, Lineman Dylan Yates, Special Teams Micah Newcom. 
Records: Crittenden 4-4 (1-0), Fulton County 1-7 (0-1)