|Senior linebacker Zech McGahan tracks |
down a Russellville ball carrier.
Russellville (8-1) used big second-half plays to open up an otherwise close Class A First District showdown Friday at Marion, beating the Rockets 27-0 and snapping a six-game losing streak against CCHS.
No other Class A team had beaten Russellville that many times over the past five years, and the Panthers were spirited about their capturing the district’s top seed and a regular-season title for the first time since 2016.
The Rockets’ (4-5) undoing wasn’t its defense, which has been phenomenal at almost every turn this season. Save a 60-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, the CCHS defense yielded scarcely little ground to a team that had piled up 340 yards a game and outscored opponents 3-to-1 in its first eight outings.
No, the Panthers used turnovers and its own defense to win the game. The Rocket offense, which has been on a roller coaster ride since August, was on a downhill pitch against the athletic Panthers. Crittenden has baked up 500 or so yards twice this season, but it has waddled like a crippled duck at times. It was no match for Russellville, which held Crittenden to negative-4 net yards on the ground and just 62 through air. About one-third of those arial yards came in the closing seconds of an irreversible decision with a backup quarterback at the control.
|QB Luke Crider leaves the pocket to look|
for an open receiver against the Panthers.
Senior starting quarterback Luke Crider said there will be some soul-searching in the coming days as the Rockets prepare for postseason.
“We’re a really good offense when we want to be, and when we find that gear we will be okay,” he said. “We’re kind of built around mommentum. Once we get momentum, we’re just one step away.”
Crider carried the ball – whether by design or flushed from the pocket – on nine of the team’s first 19 plays from scrimmage. He said the offense needs to find its rhythm early in order to be successful.
Against, the Panthers, it had some golden opportunities, particularly during the first half. A RHS bad punt snap gave Crittenden the ball at the Panther eight-yard line, but it couldn’t score. Another time, CCHS recovered a RHS fumble and reached the red zone, but hiccuped. Half of the Rocket offensive possessions started inside Panther territory – those potentially lucrative field positions were courtesy of how well the defense played. Still, no points.
Russellville manufactured a touchdown in the second period and led 7-0 at the half. In the final two periods, the Rockets failed to cover a kickoff and turned the ball over deep on its own end, which led to a Russellville TD. And the Panthers puncuated the win with a 75-yard interception return early in the fourth quarter.
Three big plays turned the tide, one was on the defense. Besides the long TD run surrendered to Chevis Elliott for a 14-0 Panther lead, Crittenden held the heralded Russellvile running attack to only 60 net yards – exactly the same distance of that one long run.
For the Rockets to be successful in the playoffs, its offense will have to help cook the bacon. The post-season begins with a matchup against Fulton County on Nov. 5 at Rocket Stadium. It could be the last game played there before a new field is built on campus. Then, it will be off to Russellville for the second round. To walk that tight rope toward a district championship and advance to a fifth straight regional title game, the Rockets will need to find a little more balance.
- The Rockets have scheduled a 10th regular season game for Friday, Oct. 29 at Dresden, Tenn. The Lions are a Class A team and are 6-3 this season. They are ranked 9th in Class A in Tennessee. One of their losses was to second-ranked McKenzie, which is undefeated. Dresden won the Class A state championship with an undefeated season in 2016 and was the Class 2A runnerup in 2011. The Lions have qualified for the TSSAA playoffs 10 of the last 11 seasons.
- The Rockets lost their first regular-season game of the season that was scheduled against Murray due to COVID-19. The game at Dresden will give them a full regular-season schedule.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Crittenden 0 0 0 0
R-Jovari Gamble 7 run (Dustin Brown kick) 6:38, 2nd
R-Chevis Elliott 60 run (Brown kick) 7:00, 3rd
R-Gamble 1 run (Brown kick) 3;02, 3rd
R-Anthony Woodward 75 interception return (kick blocked) 9:40, 4th
First Downs: CCHS 5, RHS 9
Penalties: CCHS 6-33, RHS 15-120
Rushing: CCHS 21-(-4), RHS 48-185
Passing: CCHS 9-21-4, 62; RHS 5-10-0, 18
Total Yards: CCHS 58, RHS 203
Fumbles/Lost: CCHS 1-1, RHS 2-1
Crittenden: Gattin Travis 4-6, Preston Morgeson 3-3, Luke Crider 14-(-13). Russellville: Elliott 9-109, Gamble 25-67, Jaquis Todd 5-6, Brown 1-(-11), Lennon Ries 8-14.
Crittenden: Crider 7-18-3, 40; Micah Newcom 2-3-1, 22. Russellville: 5-10-0, 18.
Crittenden: Morgeson 3-18, Kaleb Nesbitt 2-10, Travis 2-17, Trace Derrington 1-17, Brysen Baker 1-0. Russellville: Jackson Hampton 1-5, Todd 1-8, Woodward 3-5.
Crittenden 4-5 (1-1), Russellville 8-1 (2-0).