Friday, October 20, 2023

Rockets paint ugly masterpiece vs Caldwell

MARION, Ky. – A work of art, Crittenden County’s 27-7 victory over Caldwell County Friday was not. 

Yet it was a true masterpiece in functionality as the Rockets staked claim to a second-place finish in the Class 2A First District, nailed down home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs and scored a rare back-to-back win against the Tigers.

Bennett McDaniel celebrates a conversion
pass he caught in the second half
You would have to flip back into the archives about 20 years to find the last time the Rockets won consecutive games against Caldwell County, and it has rarely happened in the series that began in 1957. This was the only the third time ever, if you don’t count the four-peat from 2001 to 2004.

While the aroma of victory was particularly pleasant for a number of reasons, the game stunk much of the time. Rocket Coach Gaige Courtney said it wasn’t pretty at all, with no flow or rhythm. More than 100 yards in penalties for each team fragmented the action, but the Rocket offense managed to focused, posting 17 first downs and it scored on two of its three second-half possessions.

It was the defense that stole the show, holding the Tigers to fewer than 100 yards total offense. Caldwell’s full-house backfield found positive rushing yards on just 15 of its 22 tries. Crittenden held the Tigers to less than two yards on half of their running plays. Through the air, Caldwell was just as impotent, completing almost half of 15 passes for only 36 yards.

Rocket senior linebacker Bennett McDaniel made several keys stops and it didn’t go unnoticed. 

Jacob Carder rushed for the Rockets'
third touchdown against Caldwell
“I thought the defense played well most of the night and I thought Bennett played his hind-end off,” the Rocket skipper said.

Crittenden held Caldwell to 59 yards rushing, the least it has given up in a game this year, and junior defensive back Camron Belcher had an interception in the first half to set up the Rockets’ second touchdown.

Playing soft on the corners, the Tiger secondary gave Crittenden plenty options underneath the coverage and CCHS quarterback Micah Newcom picked them apart, completing 25-of-34 passes for 260 yards. Sophomore receiver Caden Howard caught 11 passes – just two shy of the team’s single-game record – for 90 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Gabe Keller had five catches for 60 yards and five other receivers caught passes, including senior Casey Cates, who had 40 yards on two receptions. 

CCHS senior Gattin Travis rushed for 63 yards, his best performance of the season, and the Rockets ran 129 as a team, its most in a single game this fall. 

Despite its efficiency much the way, the Rocket offense missed a couple of other opportunities to score, misfiring twice in the red zone, largely due to penalties. 

Rocket senior playmaker Tyler Belt left the game after scoring a first-quarter touchdown and rushing for 18 yards on four carries. He separated his shoulder and could miss next week’s regular-season finale.

The Rockets improved 5-4 overall and 2-1 in league play to set up a playoff game the first Friday in November at Marion against Todd Central (4-5). The No. 2 seed it earned for the playoffs is Crittenden’s best in any season when competing in Class 2A. 

The other 2A First Region playoff matchups will be Caldwell County (0-9) at Owensboro Catholic (9-0), Edmondson County (1-8) at Mayfield (7-1) and Murray (6-3) at Fort Campbell (5-4).

Crittenden will close out its regular season next week at Calloway County (2-7).


Caldwell County 0 0 0 7

Crittenden County 6 6 0 15


Critt-Tyler Belt 19 pass from Micah Newcom (run failed) 4:02, 1st

Critt-Caden Howard 18 pass from Newcom (pass failed) :24, 2nd

Critt-Jacob Carder 1 run (Bennett McDaniel pass from Newcom) 9:06, 4th

Cald-Cam Wilson 7 pass from Luke Parker (Sutton Ritchey kick) 5:58, 4th

Critt-Howard 12 pass from Newcom (Tyree McLean kick) 1:17, 4th


First Downs: Rockets 17, Tigers 7

Penalties: Rockets 14-129, Tigers 12-131

Rushing: Rockets 28-129, Tigers 22-59

Passing: Rockets 25-34-0, 260; Tigers 7-15-1, 36

Total Yards: Rockets 389, Tigers 95

Fumbles/Lost: Rockets 1-0, Tigers 3-0



Rockets: Gattin Travis 5-63, Levi Piper 2-7, Tyler Belt 4-18, Carder 7-53, Newcom 10-(-12). Tigers: Xavier Lee 1-1, Luke Maddox 8-27, Gus Fox 6-23, Wilson 2-5, Parker 2-21, Jack Roach 3-(-18).


Rockets: Newcom 25-34-0, 260. Tigers: Parker 4-10-0, 26; Roach 3-5-1, 10.


Rockets: Howard 11-90, Casey Cates 2-40, Belt 1-19, Gabe Keller 5-60, McLean 3-24, Carder 2-19, Camron Belcher 1-8. Tigers: Cooper Mobley 1-6, Parker 2-4, Lee 1-7, Maddox 2-12, Wilson 1-7.


Gabe Keller 4 solos, Levi Piper solo, 2 assists; Gattin Travis 2 solos, sack; Bennett McDaniel 6 solos, 3 assists, TFL; Casey Cates assist; Tyler Belt solo; Jason Millikan 2 solos; Grayson James 2 solos, 2 assists, sack; Tyree McLean 2 solos, assists; Cameron Belcher solo, assist, interception; Braden Mahnke 6 solos, assist, 2 TFLs, sack; Caden Howard assists; Brayden Poindexter 2 solos, assist, TFL; Jason Carder 3 solos.

Players of the Game: Offense Micah Newcom and Caden Howard, Defense Bennett McDaniel, Lineman Grayson James, Special Teams Jason Millikan.


Crittenden 5-4 (2-1), Caldwell 0-9 (0-3)