LOUISVILLE — Trailing 14-0 with less than eight minutes remaining, Trinity stormed from behind to spoil Scott County's upset bid, 21-14, Friday in a Class 6A State Football semifinal game at Marshall Stadium.
The top-rated Rocks (12-1) will meet undefeated Pleasure Ridge Park in the State finals at Western Kentucky University, next Saturday night at 7.
Trinity has won 21 state titles, including four of five since the six-class system was adopted in Kentucky.
The loss was tough to swallow for Coach Jim McKee, whose Scott County team fell to Trinity 62-21 in last year's state finals.
"Defensively, I thought we played great. We gave everything we had," McKee said. "I mean, it's unhealthy for football in Kentucky for the same school to win the state championship nine out of the last 11 years. Us or somebody needs to beat them just for the health of football. We certainly gave it our best shot."
Scott County (12-2) had won its last 11 games and took a 14-0 lead into the fourth quarter.
Travis Wright rallied Trinity by passing for two touchdowns and running for one.
Wright, who finished 16-for-38 for 230 yards, with two interceptions, said he was not surprised by the fight Scott County put up.
"They're 12-1. They're a really good football team," Wright said. "They came out with a really good game plan. They shut us down for most of the game. ... I think we had a little more experience in close games. But I give all the props to them because they played a great game."
Wright's 17-yard pass to Cody Swabek with 7:49 left cut Scott's lead in half.
After the Cardinals went three-and-out, Wright tied it on a 3-yard run around left end with 3:57 left.
Scott County got a pair of first downs before punting the ball away, leaving Trinity 1:00 to move 73 yards.
The Rocks didn't need that much time, though.
Wright found Dalyn Dawkins — who had been sick all day and nibbled on pretzels at halftime in a quest for energy — on a screen pass for a 57-yard score with 31.5 seconds left. Dawkins also finished with 106 yards on 21 runs.
Scott Daniel early ran back the ensuing kickoff, but was stopped at the Trinity 47-yard line.
That's as close as the Cardinals came, though.
Coach Bob Beatty said the win was about desire. "The kids want to win. ... That's football: you have to find a way."
As for halftime inspiration, "There's no 'win one for the Gippers.'" Beatty said. "We talked about our adjustments, ... and then I told them 'quit looking around and expecting someone else to make it; you have to make the plays.' And they found a way."
Trinity was playing without ace receiver James Quick (1,333 yards, 14 touchdowns), who suffered a rib injury a week earlier when the Rocks edged arch-rival St. Xavier 15-14 in the region finals.
In Quick's honor, Wright switched from jersey No. 13 to Quick's 17.In addition to honoring Quick, Wright noted that his black No. 13 jersey — an XXL — "is way too big."
What quickly unfolded was a defensive battle.
Both teams turned the ball over on downs on each of their first two possessions, then punted on their third.
Scott County then scored the only points of the half, with 33.4 seconds left, on a bullish 24-yard run by Dierres Dumphord.
He would finish with 166 yards on 29 carries.
With 6:08 left in the third, Scott's Patrick Murray jumped to snag a Wright screen pass, returning the ball 54 yards to the end zone.
The Cardinals couldn't do much on offense, though, held to five first downs in the second half and 12 total.
"That's on me. I run the offense, I call the plays," McKee said. "They have an outstanding defense, and they stuffed us up in the second half."
Scott County 0 7 7 0—14
Trinity 0 0 0 21—21
SC—Dierres Dumphord 24 run (Palmer Ward kick); SC—Patrick Murry 54 interception return (P. Ward kick); T—Cody Swabek 17 pass from Travis Wright (Drew Ward kick); T—Wright 3 run (D. Ward kick); T—Dalyn Dawkins 57 pass from Wright (D. Ward kick).
Records: Scott Co. 12-2; Trinity 12-1.
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.