Additional history was not in the cards for Lafayette in the Class 6A Russell Athletics/KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl state finals on Saturday. Trinity trounced the Generals, 56-21, for its seventh Class 6A title.
Trinity won its 24th state title overall, breaking a tie with Highlands for the most in state history. Coach Bob Beatty won his 12th title in 17 seasons with the school, breaking a tie with Highlands’ Dale Mueller for the most championships as a coach. It also was win No. 600 for program, the fastest to reach that milestone (Trinity started playing football in 1955).
KHSAA box score: Trinity 56, Lafayette 21
“It’s really nice to not be tied with Highlands for the most state championships anymore,” Beatty said with a grin. “These kids will really enjoy themselves going home.”
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The teams combined for 31 penalties in a game that got extra-heated after Walker Wood, Lafayette’s senior quarterback, was injured after completing a pass on Lafayette’s first drive of the fourth quarter.
Wood, a University of Kentucky commit, was walking on crutches and had a brace on his right knee after the game but the severity of his injury was not known Sunday morning. An MRI was scheduled for Monday.
Coach Eric Shaw sympathized with his players’ emotions following Wood’s departure. Trinity received 17 penalties for 186 yards; Lafayette was flagged 14 times for 140 yards.
“That’s hard to see your brother go down like that, late or a legal hit” Shaw said. “That’s how much they love one another.”
Video circulating after the game showed a Lafayette player approach and push an official, knocking off his hat, following completion of the game’s last play. Lafayette elected not to participate in the post-game handshake line after the game. Shaw declined comment on the situation.
KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said sometimes school administrators have to make tough decisions at the end of games, like not shaking hands.
“They didn’t think there was an advantage to doing the customary thing after the game,” said Tackett, who referenced an advisory committee member who’s advocated ending the post-game routine in football because of potential incidents. “ ... It was a testy game. From the playing side it wasn’t perfect, from the coaching side it wasn’t perfect and from the officiating side in wasn’t perfect.”
Lafayette, which lost to Male in last year’s finals, was the first Lexington public school to reach the state finals in consecutive seasons. The Generals pulled to within 27-21 in the opening minutes of the third quarter on a 51-yard connection from Wood to fellow senior Quinten Brown but never got closer than that in the second half.
Trinity quarterback Spencer Blackburn was named MVP of the game after rushing for 110 yards and two TDs on 11 carries while throwing 14 of 16 for 222 yards and four scores. A 71-yard connection between he and junior Rondale Moore, who had offers from Kentucky, Indiana and Central Michigan, capped the scoring for Shamrocks in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Trinity outgained Lafayette 481-342 in total yardage. Jovan Smith had 100 yards and two TDs on 12 carries to almost match Blackburn’s ground game. Moore finished with seven catches for 130 yards.
Wood had 42 rushing yards and a TD and finished 13-for-17 for 181 yards and a touchdown with an interception. Cameron Morgan led Lafayette with 20 carries for 97 yards and a TD. Generals senior Quinten Brown had six catches for 105 yards and a score.
No one wants to lose in the state finals, but getting there is still pretty special, Shaw said. Lafayette graduates 28 seniors but returns a deep class of juniors and sophomores, many of whom started in the skill groups this season.
“Now we gotta get over the hump and learn how to win this game,” Shaw said. “That’s gonna be the focus going forward.”