Thursday, August 31, 2023

Mistakes cost Rockets vs McCracken

MARION, Ky. – Laboring, yet punching well above its weight, Crittenden County was arguably successful for much of this week’s football contest, but a yellow flag nearly 60 yards behind the ball late in the game left the Rockets mighty blue in a 44-22 loss to McCracken County in a rare Thursday night encounter.

Cam'Ron Belcher (9) makes takes the Mustangs'
punter after a first-quarter bad snap.
Special teams breakdowns were costly for both sides, but it was an unsportsmanlike offsetting penalty well away from the action with 3:30 to play that stuck in the Rockets’ craw. That double infraction reset the play, wiping out what had ended with CCHS recovering a McCracken County punt snap that was retrieved and taken for a would-be touchdown by Crittenden’s Tyler Belt. That would have made it a one-possession game in the closing minutes, but the flag erased the home team’s hope.

Sure, it’s doubtful CCHS could have turned the tables on the Mustangs in the last three minutes and pulled off an upset against the 6A opponent. But, the sting of that play drew a frame of reference for third-year Rocket skipper Gaige Courtney to lament. It punctuated other mistakes that might have changed the outcome.

Four fumbles, including two on mishandled punts; an inability to run the ball and some other damaging penalties created a myriad of despair for the Rockets. Otherwise, Coach Courtney believed his team played well enough to win.

“We just made too many mistakes… enough to go around and they all end up on me,” he said, shouldering the responsibility for correcting it. “We just have to get better and fix it. From this week to last week it was night and day. We played much better.”
Crittenden County's Bennett McDaniel (8) 
works to bring down a Mustang ballcarrier.

Although the 2-1 Mustangs doubled Crittenden (1-2) on the scoreboard, it had the feel of a more palatable loss than the 36-0 thrashing Courtney's boys took a few days earlier at Union County.

Up front, McCracken probably outweighed Crittenden 2-to-1. And despite CCHS quarterback Micah Newcom being sacked six times, he was still able to orchestrate some successful drives, completing 15-of-23 passes, including three touchdown strikes. The running game was bottled up; however, as the Rockets managed fewer than 30 yards on the ground for the second straight week. In three games, they have averaged only 43 yards rushing.

Special teams play cost the Mustangs six points to start the game when a snap sailed over the punter’s head and Crittenden recovered the ball at the McCracken seven, scoring the game’s first points two plays later. That punt team paralysis spilled over onto Crittenden’s sideline and allowed the ‘Stangs to score twice on short fields set up by two CCHS mishandled punts.

"We had a chance to win this football game,” Courtney said. “If a call goes our way, a ball bounces our way a couple of times, then we’re right in it at the end. It just happened to slip away.”

The coach believes his team can limit mistakes and improve as the season progresses. He will have an extra day to get the Rockets ready for next week’s home opponent, Hopkins Central, on Friday night.

McCracken County 9 21 7 7
Crittenden County 8 14 0 0

C-Caden Howard 4 pass from Micah Newcom (Casey Cates run) 10:53, 1st
M-Chase Downing 4 run (kick blocked by Tyler Belt) 7:19, 1st
M-Brock Wilson 29 field goal 1:59, 1st
M-Kelin Thomas 8 pass from Maddox O’Neal (Wilson kick) 9:38, 2nd
M-Zeno Cornelius 16 run (Wilson kick) 8:30, 2nd
C-Tyler Belt 3 pass from Newcom (pass failed) 4:24, 2nd
M-Daivon Dunbar 75 pass from O’Neal (Wilson kick) 3:40, 2nd
C-Gattin Travis 13 pass from Newcom (Belt pass from Newcom) 2:55, 2nd
M-Dassing 3 run (Wilson kick) 5:25, 3rd
M-Cohen Buckhalter 1 run (Wilson kick) 1:12, 4th

First Downs: CCHS 9, MCHS 17
Penalties: CCHS 9-75, MCHS 15-122
Rushing: CCHS 19-27, MCHS 33-113
Passing: CCHS 15-24-0, 173; MCHS 21-29-0, 256
Total Yards: CCHS 200, MCHS 369
Fumbles/Lost: CCHS 4-4, MCHS 1-1

CCHS: Gattin Travis 3-22, Jacob Carder 2-5, Tyler Belt 3-2, Levi Piper 1-1, Micah Newcom 10-(-3). MCHS: Brock Wilson 1-(-30), James Barragan 4-33, Zeno Cornelius 18-90, Dawson Hayden 2-4, Chase Wassing 4-14, Kayden Wahl 1-7, Maddox O’Neal 2-(-6).
CCHS: Newcom 15-23-0, 173; Caden Howard 0-1-0. MCHS: O’Neal 21-29-0, 256.
CCHS: Caden Howard 6-45, Gabe Keller 3-43, Travis 3-20, Belt 2-60, Cam’Ron Belcher 1-5. MCHS: Cooper Falconite 5-56, Tristan Beyer 1-7, Daivon Dunbar 7-137, Quinterious Bailey 3-20, Andrew Farmer 3-15, Kenlin Thomas 1-8, Dawson Hayden 1-13.
Gabe Keller 2 solos, assist; Levi Piper solo, assist; Gattin Travis 4 solos, assist, 2 TFLs; Bennett McDaniel 7 solos, 5 assists, TFL, caused fumble; Casey Cates 4 solos, 3 assists, TFL, fumble recovery; Travis Blazina solo; Tyler Belt 2 solos, 3 assists; Grayson James 4 solos, assist; Blake French 2 solos, 3 assists; Kaiden Travis 4 solos, 2 assists, 2 TFL, sack; Camron Belcher 2 solos; Caden Howard 3 solos, 2 assist; Brayden Poindexter 3 solos, 2 assists, TFL; Jacob Carder 3 solo. 
Players of the Game Defense Kaiden Travis and Bennett McDaniel, Offense Micah Newcom, Lineman Lane West.
Records: CCHS 1-2, MCHS 2-1