On Friday night, two Lexington contenders proved that the “next man up” mantra often repeated by football teams dealing with tough injuries isn’t merely clichéd coach-speak.
Behind clutch performances from quarterbacks starting for the first time this season, Lexington Christian and Frederick Douglass both won second-round games to march into next week’s region finals.
A week after losing Montaveon Bean to a knee injury in its comeback win over Lafayette, Frederick Douglass had one of its best offensive nights of the season. Paul Dunbar transfer Gavin Bugg completed 16 of 27 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns and added 55 yards on the ground as the Broncos, rated No. 16 in Dave Cantrall’s Rating the State, knocked off No. 25 Tates Creek 34-21.
After Tates Creek pulled to within 21-14 early in the third quarter on Laron Warner’s second touchdown run of the game, Bugg threw a pair of long touchdown passes to Dekel Crowdus to bury the host Commodores.
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Bugg was the starting quarterback at Paul Dunbar as a junior, so this wasn’t totally foreign territory. The Broncos used the senior at multiple positions this season before he was forced to miss several weeks because of injury leading up to the playoffs. Douglass Coach Brian Landis was not surprised Bugg, finally healthy at the perfect time, rose to the occasion.
“That kid has started a lot of ball games in his high school career, and he’s a heck of a quarterback,” Landis said. “So, when Bean went down and we got ‘Bugger’ back, there was no doubt what was gonna happen.”
Landis also heaped heavy praise on Crowdus, who had nearly 100 yards receiving against the Commodores a week after taking over at quarterback against Lafayette when Bean went down and steering the Broncos to victory.
“If a Division I school isn’t over at our office on Monday morning, I’m gonna have to make a phone call because that kid is electric,” Landis said. “There’s not a faster kid in the state, and to be a freshman and do what he does in truly unbelievable.”
Douglass’s win sets up a rematch with No. 4 Scott County, which routed the Broncos 55-21 in Georgetown on Oct. 6.
Lexington Christian had to travel a couple of hours east to Prestonsburg. It took a while for the Eagles’ offense to get warmed up, but the points piled up once it did.
Leading 14-6 at halftime, LCA scored three touchdowns in just over six minutes in the third quarter to slam the door on the Blackcats and finish off a 42-12 win. Dillon Wheatley led the charge with 211 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries. The senior tailback softened the transition for Eagles quarterback Josh McClurg, who started in place of injured Logan Nieves.
But McClurg was much more than a mere game manager. The sophomore completed 12 of 20 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 45 yards and another score.
“Josh is an alpha dog,” LCA Coach Ethan Atchley said. “He’s been playing receiver and defensive back for us from day one as a freshman, so he’s had plenty of varsity experience and he stepped up when we needed him most.”
Atchley never considered forcing McClurg to play conservatively.
“It helps a lot to have a guy like Dillon in the backfield, but when you think about the need to be balanced and cause problems for a defense, we needed Josh to make plays.” Atchley said. “He’s one of our best athletes and he’s fully capable of running the entire offense.”
A stellar effort by the defense helped LCA’s cause as well. The Eagles outgained Prestonsburg 449 yards to 211 and forced three turnovers. Junior linebacker Blane Hardin spent a ton of time in the Blackcats’ backfield, coming up with a pair of sacks and 2 1/2 tackles for loss.
Lexington Christian will get another shot at Danville next week. The undefeated Admirals, who knocked off Somerset 19-0 on Friday, are responsible for the Eagles’ lone loss this season, a 44-28 rout in Lexington on Oct. 20. Danville has also ended LCA’s season in the Class 2A playoffs the last two years.
“Those guys have loads of talent and loads of speed all over the field,” Atchley said of the Admirals. “They’re a well-coached bunch with a lot of discipline and that’s probably why we’ve seen each other so much the last few years. Hopefully we can go out there and get ’em this time.”
Lexington Catholic 56, Garrard County 16: Garrard County led 16-14 at halftime but Lexington Catholic’s one-two punch of Beau Allen and Dameon Jones turned the tide in the third quarter and knocked the Golden Lions out of the 3A playoffs. Four of Allen’s six touchdown passes came in the Knights’ 35-point third frame. Jones caught one of those scores and rushed for a 17-yard touchdown that put LexCath ahead for good.
Lately a sure bet to eclipse the 100-yard mark on the ground, Jones did most of his damage as a receiver on Friday, turning three receptions into 126 yards. Jones also carried 10 times for 52 yards, but Keith Brinkman had the highlight-reel run for the Knights, rushing for a 64-yard touchdown to set the final score.
Nathan Schnurr caught two touchdowns in the win. Josh Warren ran for 179 yards and two touchdowns for Garrard County, which had 316 total rushing yards.
Scott County 42, Henry Clay 20: After the Blue Devils pulled within 28-20 on Jordan Kimball’s 55-yard fumble return with 5:18 left in the game, Brice Fryman took over for No. 4-ranked Scott County. On the ensuing possession Fryman caught a 56-yard touchdown pass from Josh Davis then put the game away with a 19-yard touchdown run as the clock ticked under the two-minute mark.
Fryman finished with 108 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries but Austin Barnett was the workhorse out of the backfield on Friday. Barnett rushed 31 times for 178 yards. The Cardinals outrushed the Blue Devils 338 yards to 87.
Henry Clay quarterback Darrin Van Horn did his best to engineer an upset, throwing for 251 yards and a touchdown while completing passes to seven different receivers, but the Blue Devils managed just two combined first downs on their final two drives of the night.
Covington Catholic 49, Bullitt Central 0: The No. 1-ranked Colonels continued their dominant march through the Class 5A playoff field on Friday, routing the visiting Cougars behind three Casey McGinness rushing touchdowns. CovCath rolled up 42 first-quarter points for the second week in a row and has outscored its first two playoff opponents 105-14. Thirteen different players registered carries as the Colonels rushed for 217 yards, led by McGinness, who carried seven times for 60 yards. AJ Mayer completed three of five passes for 47 yards and two touchdowns.
Hazard 43, Lynn Camp 8: Braxton Whitaker caught two of Bailey Blair’s three touchdown passes and Matt Francis had touchdown runs of 15 and 28 yards as the host Bulldogs built a 36-0 halftime lead. Hazard’s offense is peaking at the perfect time. The Bulldogs’ two playoff wins are also their highest scoring games of the season.
Madison Southern 14, Anderson County 11: The host Eagles took a 14-3 lead into halftime as Nathan Eads punched in a 1-yard touchdown as time expired then held off the Bearcats. Blake Franklin pulled Anderson County within a field goal early in the fourth quarter with a 37-yard TD run and a two-point conversion. The Bearcats had a chance to win it on their final possession, but Madison Southern’s Jordan Casteel intercepted Jagger Gillis’ pass in the end zone with 44 seconds to play and the Eagles ran out the clock.
Beau Allen, Lexington Catholic: The sophomore quarterback showed poise beyond his years as the Knights rolled on Friday, completing 14 of 23 passes for 351 yards and six touchdowns against just one interception.
Mason Bowman, South Oldham: Listed as a linebacker/tight end, the junior operated as the Dragons’ No. 1 running back on Friday as they pulled off a 35-34 comeback victory over Highlands. Bowman rushed 21 times for 223 yards and five touchdowns. With South Oldham trailing 34-21 after three quarters, Bowman scored twice in the fourth to complete the rally.
Carter Smith, Madison Southern: The senior linebacker was dominant as the Eagles held off Anderson County for a 14-11 win. Smith made 20 tackles including 3 1/2 for loss and corralled a key interception on the first play of the second quarter as Anderson County was approaching the red zone, returning the pick 38 yards to flip field position.
Tyler Durbin, Elizabethtown: Senior quarterback went 7-for-7 passing for 165 yards and five touchdowns as the Panthers routed Paducah Tilghman 41-0 for their ninth straight win.
Caitlyn Stroh contributed to this report