Lexington Catholic 35, Elizabethtown 14: The Knights took the J.J. Ogbogu show on the road Friday night and once again the senior receiver, returner, and part-time quarterback delivered, doing a bit of everything to send Lexington Catholic into the 3A finals and end a run of four-consecutive semifinal losses.
A week after digging out of a 13-0 halftime hole to clip Central 14-13, the Knights never trailed. Quarterback Andy Thompson hit Ogbogu with a 36-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter to get the visitors on the board. Elizabethtown knotted things up on one of the Knights’ few defensive lapses of the night when Bernil Cecil found a hole in the line and rumbled 46 yards for a Panthers touchdown.
Catholic regained the lead when running back Jaylen Jones barrelled in from 5 yards out late in the second quarter to make it 21-14 heading into halftime, but the Knights couldn’t gain any more breathing room until the last play of the third quarter. After the defense held Elizabethtown to a three-and-out, Ogbogu struck again, returning a punt 37 yards for a score to stun the home crowd and open up a two-touchdown lead.
“That was a huge momentum changer,” said Knights’ head coach Mark Perry. “There were some huge blocks on that play. Will Roden in particular threw a great block on that return. And getting the ball to J.J. in space is always a good thing.”
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On Catholic’s next possession, Ogbogu got in on the air assault. He completed two passes to fellow senior Donovan Morris, the first for 22 yards to get the Knights into Panthers territory and the second for a 20 yard touchdown to swell the lead to 28-7.
After a nine-play Elizabethtown drive culminating in a one-yard TD run by Jack Wilson cut the Lexington Catholic lead in half, Jaylen Jones ended the Panthers’ bid for an undefeated season with his second scoring run (25 yards).
The 35-point outing marks the most points scored against the Panthers this season. They had outscored their opponents 558-158 going into Friday’s matchup. Ogbogu finished with eight catches for 107 yards and a TD. Jones carried 20 times for 139 and two TDs. Quarterback Andy Thompson eclipsed the century mark on the ground as well, rushing 21 times for 113 yards and adding 150 yards and a score on 14 of 20 passing.
The Knights will face defending state champ Belfry (13-1), who knocked off Corbin 42-14, in next week’s 3A finals. Perry said the senior class getting to the finals after three consecutive semifinal losses to Highlands is a game changer for the program.
“It’s a huge step for us. All these kids have lost their last three semifinal games. This was a huge step forward for our program. We’re really proud of the way these guys have worked.”
Pikeville 42, Paintsville 23: No Kash Daniel spelled big problems for Paintsville. The senior University of Kentucky signee was a surprising scratch in the Tigers’ rematch with Pikeville, whom they edged 23-22 in overtime on Sept. 4. Daniel reportedly suffered a sprained MCL which kept him and his team-high 158 tackles off the field in Friday’s home loss.
Paintsville’s defense had given up no more than 28 points in a single game, which they surrendered in last week’s 48-28 victory over Paris.
For a while it looked like Paintsville would be fine without its senior leader. The Tigers took a 7-0 lead on a 24 yard pass from Kent Phelps to James Allen, then went up 14-7 on a 75-yard kickoff return by Phelps. A 52-yard field goal from Joao Dos Santos gave them a 17-14 lead at the end of the first quarter, but then Pikeville reeled off 28 consecutive points, starting with Daric Pugh’s second TD run of the game. Panthers quarterback Wyatt Battaile added two of his three touchdown passes during the run to send the Tigers to their first defeat of the season.
Pikeville (12-2) will meet Beechwood (13-1) next week in the finals.
Josh Sullivan: 859-231-3225, @sullyjosh