Friday, September 8, 2023

Rocket comeback continues spell over HopCentral

MARION, Ky. – For a time early in the second half Friday night at Rocket Stadium, it appeared as though Hopkins Central was en route to exorcizing some old demons that had long orbited its play against Crittenden County.
Grayson James (51) celebrates with
Caden Howard after the Rockets score
the go-ahead touchdown in the 4th.

Then, the Rockets ratcheted up their defense and pulled off a second-half comeback to beat The Storm 26-21. It was just the 32nd late comeback in 66 CCHS football seasons. There were two last year.

HopCentral has been able to solve Crittenden’s sorcerer-like spell only once in 11 meetings dating back to 2009. Leading 14-6 after dozing the ball downfield on its first offensive drive of the second half, there was a feeling that the tide may have turned. Another pounding drive made it 21-12 – a two-possession game from the Rocket perspective. 

“They came out and just tried to run the ball right down our throat and were successful doing it,” Rocket coach Gaige Courtney said. “We were able to make some adjustments. The linebackers started playing really well and we were able to get a few key stops right there at the end.”

Indeed, there were three big defensive stands in the second half that allowed the Rockets to muster up a fourth-quarter, go-ahead drive that ended on a flip pass from backup quarterback Quinn Summers to Caden Howard for the Rockets’ first lead since the opening minutes. Summers had entered the game with just under six minutes to go for one play when starter Micah Newcom left with a cramp after a 19-yard run to The Storm two-yard line.

Senior Tyler Belt (23) finds room around the
end for a gain during the Rocket win.
Newcom was very accurate in the contest, completing 21-of-34 passes for 204 yards. The Rockets rushed for only 36 yards in the first half, but used a successful ground attack in the last two periods to bolster its passing and wind down the clock in the waning minutes.

“It was a game of ups and downs and it wasn’t always pretty, but we kept fighting and made some key plays when we needed to,” Courtney said. 

Hopkins Central had a bit of success passing in the first half, but was intercepted twice by senior defensive back Gabe Keller. In the third period, The Storm went under center and tried giving the ball to its sizable runners behind backfield blockers. It worked for a time, but Crittenden bottled them up on their last two series. 

Senior lineman Lane West had HCHS quarterback Isac Earls in his grasp on a fourth-down-and-six in CCHS territory with four minutes to play when the QB threw incomplete. From there, the Rockets took care of the clock and celebrated another win over The Storm.

Crittenden will have a bye next week.

Hopkins Central 0 7 14 0
Crittenden County 6 6 14 6

C-Tyler Belt 16 pass from Micah Newcom (pass failed) 9:05, 1st
H-Calil McNary 6 pass from Isac Earl (Elijah Davis kick) 9:03, 2nd
H-McNary 5 run (Davis kick) 10:14, 3rd
C-Caden Howard 14 pass from Newcom (pass failed) 5:40, 3rd
H-Zayden Parker 46 run (Davis kick) 4:00, 3rd
C-CamRon Belcher 22 pass from Newcom (Levi Piper run) 2:46, 3rd
C-Howard 2 pass from Quinn Summers (pass failed) 5:52, 4th

First Downs: CCHS 16, HCHS 9
Penalties: CCHS 10-75, HCHS 10-80
Rushing: CCHS 22-93, HCHS 33-200
Passing: CCHS 22-36-1, 206; HCHS 7-16-2, 59
Total Yards: CCHS 299, HCHS 259
Fumbles/Lost: CCHS 0-0, HCHS 2-0

CCHS: Gattin Travis 8-23, Jacob Carder 2-7, Tyler Belt 2-8, Micah Newcom 10-55. HCHS: Call McNary 18-92, Zayden Parker 4-47, Logan Rodgers 4-20, Isac Earl 7-41.
CCHS: Newcom 21-34-0, 204; Quinn Summers 1-1-0, 2; Casey Cates 0-1-1. HCHS: Earls 7-16-2.
CCHS: Tyler Belt 5-81, Caden Howard 8-51, Gabe Keller 4-39, CamRon Belcher 2-20, Cates 2-13, Travis 1-2. HCHS: Issac Manning 3-15, Konner Harrison 2-15, McNary 2-29.
Gabe Keller solo, 2 interceptions; Levi Piper 4 solos, 3 assists, TFL; Gattin Travis 6 solos, assist; Caden Howard 3 solos, TFL, blocked kick; Bennett McDaniel 6 solos, 4 assists, TFL; Micah Newcom solo; Casey Cates 4 assists; Brayden Poindexter 3 solos; Carder 2 solos, assist; Blake French solo, assist, TFL; Tyler Belt solo, assist; Grayson James six solos, TFL; Lane West 3 solos, TFL; Travis Blazina solo.
Players of the Game: Defense Gabe Keller, Offense Tyler Belt and Caden Howard, Special Teams Jacob Carder, Lineman Lane West.
Records: CCHS 2-2, HCHS 2-2