You didn’t have to wait for the start of college football to see smaller schools knocking off higher-division foes. Little guys were making statements all across Kentucky on Friday night.
In the second game of the Bob Allen Pigskin Classic, Class 2A Danville — ranked third among its peers — toppled Southwestern, the No. 7 team in Class 5A, 35-34 in a game that ended at about 1 a.m.
The teams didn’t kick off until about 10 p.m. because the first game — in which five Rockcastle County players (Brent Lovell, Chayse McClure, Jaden Payne, Devon Robinson and Michael Tomlinson) scored touchdowns in a 38-7 win over Bourbon County — began 50 minutes later than originally scheduled due to heat.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been playing past midnight,” Danville Coach Clay Clevenger said.
Danville took a 21-13 lead into the fourth quarter but traded scores with Southwestern throughout the last period. The Warriors went ahead 28-27 on a 64-yard TD pass to JP Vaught from Brandon Pruitt.
With about a minute left, Danville reclaimed a 35-28 advantage after Zach Dampier completed a 48-yard pass to D’mauriae VanCleave and a two-point pass to David Walker. Pruitt completed an 81-yard scoring bomb to Vaught on Southwestern’s first play from scrimmage after the Danville score, but the Admirals snuffed a two-point rush at the 1-yard line to hold on.
“That was probably as wild of a fourth quarter as I’ve been a part of,” Clevenger said. “ … I couldn’t write a better script for the game. We were able to get the win, but we were also able to have some adversity, had to battle back, had to play four quarters and literally play to the last play against a really good football team.”
Out east, Belfry and Tates Creek got underway at 10:30 p.m. because East Ridge-Phelps didn’t start on time (again, heat). The Pirates, the top-ranked team and three-time defending state champs in Class 3A, quickly got ahead of the Class 6A Commodores, scoring the game’s first 34 points en route to a 48-12 win.
Fifty-six miles from Belfry, Class 4A Johnson Central was busy hosting Capital, one of the largest schools in West Virginia and a finalist in the state’s biggest division the last two seasons (it won in 2014).
Johnson Central won 23-7; after the game, Coach Jim Matney told the Ashland Daily Independent, “This is probably the biggest regular-season win in school history.” Blake Gamble rushed for 81 yards and two TDs on nine carries, and Geordon Blanton had two interceptions for the Golden Eagles in their first game since falling to South Warren in last year’s Class 4A finals. Central outrushed Capital 322 to 23.
“It went our way, I guess that’s all you can say,” Matney told the Herald-Leader on Saturday, noting it was just the first of a stacked slate of matchups to start the season.
“Looking at it before the game, I felt like we were in the deep end of the pool and couldn’t swim,” Matney said with a laugh. “ … The state championship game kind of left a sour taste in our mouth because we felt like that even though we might not have been as good as South Warren, we knew that the game should have been a whole lot better game.”
Lexington Catholic couldn’t pull off the win againt St. Xavier late last night, but the Knights had a big lead on the third-ranked team in Class 6A and reminded people that they should again be respected in Class 3A.
“These early games in the year are all learning games for us,” LexCath Coach Mark Perry said. “I thought we learned a lot about our team in the first half. We played well in all three phases. And then, to be honest with you, we didn’t in the second half.”
▪ Nic Mayer, whose 30-yard field goal as time expired gave Campbell County its first win over perennial power Highlands since 1991. The Camels trailed 14-0 but rallied for a 24-21 win, Coach Stephen Lickert’s first against his alma mater.
▪ Tucker Woolum, who completed 12 of his 13 pass attempts for 293 yards and two TDs in Pineville’s 58-26 win at Jackson County on Friday night.
▪ J.R. Lucas, Collins’ junior quarterback. He went 21-for-29 for 389 yards and six TDs (tying the Titans’ school record) in a 55-52 shootout win over Bullitt East.
▪ Sam Taylor, whose 260 rushing yards and three TDs were crucial in St. Xavier’s epic 42-28 comeback win at Lexington Catholic.
▪ A.J. Mayer, who threw for 286 yards and four TDs in Covington Catholic’s 56-48 win over Cincinnati Oak Hills on Thursday.
▪ Aaron Fortenbury, who rushed for 188 yards and two TDs in East Jessamine’s 32-27 win at Lincoln County. The Jaguars are 2-0 for a second straight season.
▪ Christian Braly, who had a school-record six TDs in Boyd County’s 70-21 win at Lewis County.
▪ New Lawrence County coach Alan Short picked up his first win as a head coach when the Bulldogs defeated Montgomery County 30-28 in their home opener.
▪ No team is living on the edge quite like Madison Central; the Indians have won their first two games by a combined three points. They defeated Knox Central 8-7 in the season opener and held off Paul Laurence Dunbar 14-12 this week.
▪ Madison Southern picked up its first win over Garrard County in school history, defeating the Golden Lions 21-18.
▪ Western Hills’ 36-34 win over Franklin County was the Wolverines’ first over their crosstown rival since 2009. Sophomore Wandale Robinson had 135 yards and three TDs to lead Western Hills.
▪ Cooper, which opened in 2008, picked up its 50th all-time win after defeating Newport Central Catholic 45-14. It was also win No. 50 for Coach Randy Borchers.
▪ Franklin-Simpson defeated Caldwell County 14-6 in a Western Kentucky contest called at halftime due to lightning. The Wildcats improved to 2-0 while the Tigers fell to 0-2.
▪ Dixie Heights defeated Scott 34-7 in a finish that was delayed to Saturday. Bellevue-Dayton and Paris-Holmes were postponed to Saturday night.
▪ Trinity defeated Brentwood, a defending state champion in Tennessee, 35-21. It was the Shamrocks’ fourth straight win over the Eagles.
▪ Class A Raceland got its first win over Ashland Blazer, a Class 4A school, since an overtime victory in 2008. The Rams won 20-13 in regulation on Friday.
“When you think about those teams that beat Ashland, they’re talked about in Raceland all the time,” senior Nathaniel Davidson told the Ashland Daily Independent. “The ’08 team, the ’06 team, they’ve just always been talked about. It’s an awesome feeling.”
Quite a quote
Henry Clay Coach Sam Simpson made a touching statement about senior wide receiver Charles Davis following the Blue Devils’ 34-28 loss to Ryle:
“Let’s not let this go unnoticed. Did you see that touchdown catch by Charlie Davis? Last year they were laughing at that kid because he couldn’t catch a cold. And he just kept working, and he kept working. Makes me wanna dad-burn cry. That kid came out and played his butt off for us.”