Scott County won a fifth consecutive Class 6A region final Friday night, but not without a title-worthy effort on the part of Henry Clay.
Trading punches like heavyweight fighters, Scott County found a way to win 37-34 at Toyota Stadium.
The top-ranked Cardinals (13-0) advance to travel to Male in next week's State semifinals.
"If we win a state championship or beat Male next week, that's great," Cardinals Coach Jim McKee said. "I really want to do that, obviously. But you can't worry about being the king of the hill until you're the king of the neighborhood, so we want to be the king of the neighborhood first."
Scott County has won 20 in a row against Lexington teams. Henry Clay (9-3) also lost to Scott County last month, 70-34.
"They played their hearts out. We took shots and we gave shots back," Devils Coach Sam Simpson said. "Guys were supposed to go down and they didn't. They were supposed to run by us and they didn't; we stopped them. That's a really good football team. And I think that we showed them that we're a really good football team, too.
"I just didn't plan on it ending this way. I have so much respect and so much admiration to the way these young people responded to coaching and made a commitment to being a team and to be unselfish, and to play hard."
"Just the ebb and flow of the game" was crazy, McKee said.
Henry Clay outgained the Cards 530 yards to 455, including 435-379 on the ground.
The Blue Devils' Elijah Bell ran 20 times for 282 yards and two touchdowns. Teammate D.J. Jackson also ran 20 times for 163 yards and three scores.
Keith Guy paced Scott County with 13 carries for 153 yards and the winning touchdown. He also caught one pass for a 57-yard score. Kevin Claussen ran 24 times for 117 yards.
Henry Clay led 14-13 at halftime, getting a 15-yard TD run by Jackson and an 80-yarder by Bell.
Scott County scored on a 4-yard run by Noah Hughes and a 5-yarder by Clay McKee.
Things got crazier in the second half, starting with the first play from scrimmage — another 80-yard touchdown scamper by Bell.
Scott County came back with Guy's 57-yard snag of a McKee pass. A two-point conversion failed, leaving Henry Clay on top 21-19.
The Cardinals took a 22-21 lead on Palmer Ward's 34-yard field goal, which was set up by Thomas Daniel's fumble recovery.
Jackson's 16-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter put Henry Clay up 27-22.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Devils quarterback Sammy Carter exited because of a sprained ankle.
Then came three of the quickest strikes of the season.
Scott County took a 30-27 lead when Grayson Miller took a reverse 52 yards to the end zone with 5:22 left.
Next play from scrimmage, Jackson ran 71 yards to the house for a 34-30 Henry Clay lead.
And on the next play from scrimmage, Guy bolted 63 yards to the end zone for a 37-34 Scott County advantage. "This was a track meet football game," Guy said.
Henry Clay turned the ball over on downs, but got a final chance by way of a fumble recovery.
The Devils got as close as the Cards' 28, but Triston Mosley came up with a sack on the final play of the game.
"It feels great. It's a blessing," Guy said. "Henry Clay, good job. They performed real good. It's a blessing."
Scott Co. 37, Henry Clay 34
Henry Clay 7 7 7 13—34
Scott County 6 7 9 15—37
HC—D.J. Jackson 15 run (Tyler Dunbar kick); SC—Noah Hughes 4 run (kick failed); SC—Clay McKee 5 run (Palmer Ward kick); HC—Elijah Bell 80 run (Dunbar kick); HC—Bell 80 run (Dunbar kick); SC—Keith Guy 57 pass from McKee (run failed); SC—Ward 34 field goal; HC—Jackson 16 run (pass failed); SC—Grayson Miller 52 run (Miller pass from McKee); HC—Jackson 71 run (Dunbar kick); SC—Guy 63 run (Ward kick).
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.