BOWLING GREEN — Fort Campbell wrapped up an undefeated season and a state championship three-peat by rallying past DeSales, 29-9, Friday night.
The Falcons were down 9-7 at halftime — the only time they trailed all season — but they warmed up to the challenge on a cold night.
Sparked by senior quarterback Antonio Andrews and a riled-up defense, Fort Campbell dominated the second half to win another Class 2A title in front of 4,157 fans in L.T. Smith Stadium.
"It's school history," Coach Shawn Berner said. "There's never been an undefeated team at Fort Campbell before. We accomplished that.
"And to win three in a row is absolutely amazing."
Besides bearing the burden of having their military families fighting overseas, Fort Campbell's players also had to cope with the death of a teammate, Tim Williams, who died after a pre-season practice.
A framed photo of Williams rested on the team bench during the game.
"Tim was up there looking down on us tonight," Andrews said. "We got the job done for him."
Andrews certainly did his job, improving his record to 29-0 as the Falcons' starting quarterback over the last two years.
He ran 11 times for 155 yards and a touchdown, and passed for 78 yards and a TD. For the season he rushed for 1,597 yards and 29 TDs, and thew for 1,667 yards and 28 TDs.
Andrews didn't hide his excitement about winning another championship.
"We've done it, put it in the books, it's a wrap, it's a dynasty," he said.
DeSales, playing in its first state finals in 28 years, made the Falcons work for it. After falling behind 7-0 early, the Colts rallied behind Ryan Johnson's 25-yard field goal and Johns' 4-yard TD run to take a 9-7 lead.
"Being behind motivated us a lot," Andrews said.
Andrews' 15-yard TD pass to Breeon Moreno regained the lead for Fort Campbell late in the third quarter.
Less than two minutes later, Tre Powell returned a punt 59 yards for a score to put the Falcons on top 22-9.
Powell was also a star on defense with 15 solo tackles and five assists. Fort Campbell limited DeSales to a little over 100 yards in the second half.
The Falcons' defense twice stopped DeSales on fourth down in the red zone in the closing minutes.
In between those stops, Troy Turner iced it for Fort Campbell by busting loose on a 50-yard TD run.
"They've got a lot of guys faster than our guys," DeSales Coach Mark Sander said, "and that's what it came down to today."
DeSales' running game was led by Andrew Beeler (91 yards), Johnson (82) and Garrit Leicht (75).
Sander, referring to several unsportsmanlike penalties against Fort Campbell, added, "I guarantee you our team lost with more grace and better sportsmanship."
Fort Campbell now owns six state titles. Besides winning the last three years, it also took home the big trophy in 1976, '78 and '79.
Fort Campbell 29, DeSales 9
Fort Campbell 7 0 15 7—29
DeSales 0 9 0 0— 9
First quarter: FC—Antonio Andrews 20 run (Darien Upshaw kick), 5:08. Second quarter: D—Ryan Johnson 25 field goal, 7:12. D—Johnson 4 run (kick failed), 0:18. Third quarter: FC—Breeon Moreno 15 pass from Andrews (Upshaw kick), 4:01. FC—Tre Powell 59 punt return (Chris Allen pass from Andrews), 2:04. Fourth quarter: FC—Troy Turner 50 run (Upshaw kick), 3:00.
Records: Fort Campbell 15-0, DeSales 11-4.
First downs 15 23
Rushes-yards 26-267 65-278
Passing 78 77
Comp-att-int 8-15-1 6-13-0
Punt returns 3-81 0-0
Kickoff returns 1-6 4-51
Interceptions ret. 0-0 1-0
Sacked-yards lost 1-4 1-5
Punts-avg. 3-39.0 4-39.5
Field goals 0-0 1-1
Fumbles lost 0-0 2-0
Penalties-yards 6-50 3-34
Third-down conv. 2-7 9-18
Fourth-down conv. 1-1 1-4
RUSHING—Fort Campbell, Andrews 11-155, Turner 7-81, Powell 3-23, Crank 2-13, team 1-0, Moreno 2-(-5). DeSales, Beeler 25-91, Johnson 18-82, Leicht 15-75, Perry 6-27, Pike 1-3.
PASSING—Fort Campbell, Andrews 8-14-1-78. Hills 0-1-0-0. DeSales, Johnson 6-13-0-77.
RECEIVING— Fort Campbell, Moreno 3-33, Powell 3-18, Hills 2-27. DeSales, Price 3-40, Poole 2-19, Perry 1-18.