For the first time since it won a state title in 2013, Scott County will have the opportunity to get back to Bowling Green. The Cardinals, ranked third in Class 6A, staved off No. 2 Ryle, 42-40.
It was the eighth straight win for Scott County, which allowed the most points it had all season. Ryle was previously undefeated; the Cardinals’ 42 points matched the most Ryle had given up in 2016.
But when it mattered most, Scott County’s defense twice rose to the challenge in the waning seconds.
Ryle quarterback Tanner Morgan hit Stefan Clarkson for a 21-yard touchdown to pull within 42-40. Morgan connected with Jake Chisolm on a two-point pass attempt but multiple Cardinals converged to force a fumble, recovered by Ki-Juan Christopher at the 1-yard line.
The Raiders kicked off and recovered an onside attempt for the second time Friday night. Morgan completed a 5-yard route to Bryce Ashley, who scurried out of bounds to kill the clock with 23 seconds left. On the next play, Morgan escaped a sack and threw a pass intended for Easton Pilyer in the end zone. Scott County sophomore Glenn Covington read the route, stayed in front of the play and pulled down the game-clinching interception within feet of where Christopher recovered the fumble seconds before.
Covington was huge on offense down the stretch, too. He grabbed two catches for 31 yards and TD that extended Scott County’s lead to 34-27 early in the fourth quarter. He threw what ended up being the deciding two-point conversion pass to Landon Easley after the Cards’ final TD with 4:07 left in the contest.
“He’s a good football player,” Scott County Coach Jim McKee said of Covington. “ ... He does good things with it and I’d say he easily played over 100 plays tonight.”
Breaks on special teams — in addition to the onside kick recoveries, there was a dropped punt return in the second quarter that helped Ryle take a 27-21 lead — kept going the way of the Raiders. Scott County also was assessed more than double the penalty yardage than Ryle throughout the night, 108 to 42.
“We were able to overcome all that,” McKee said. “We took some haymaker shots and got back up off the mat.”
Jacob Burton had 24 carries for 155 yards and four TDs, including the go-ahead score for the Cardinals. Kendrick Hamilton had 108 yards on 16 rushes and a catch for 43 yards. Brice Fryman rushed 10 times for 73 yards and a TD and had one reception for 29 yards.
Morgan, a Western Michigan commit, was 20 of 30 for 262 yards and four TDs. He became just the 10th quarterback in state history to eclipse 10,000 passing yards in a career in the opening round of the playoffs. Ryle receiver Bryce Ashley had 10 grabs for 141 yards and two scores. Chisolm finished with a game-high 177 yards and two TDs on 24 carries to go with five catches for 64 yards.
The outcome set up a Scott County rematch with Lafayette, which ousted the Cards in last year’s regional finals. Lafayette was awarded a 1-0 forfeit win over Scott County by the KHSAA earlier this season; the Cardinals led 25-20 in the third quarter before play was suspended due to inclement weather. The Generals defeated Simon Kenton, 63-41, on Friday night.
Colby McKee, Jim’s son, played for the Cardinals’ freshman team when Scott County won its only state title. Now a senior with Division I offers (Austin Peay, Eastern Michigan, Tennessee Tech), the offensive lineman is thrilled that his class has gone the farthest it’s ever gone. And they’re eager to face off against their post-Thanksgiving opponent.
“There’s plenty of emotion running,” McKee said. “I heard Lafayette won, so that makes it that much better.”
Scott County 42, Ryle 40
SC—Brice Fryman 10 run (Colin Dempster kick); R—Jake Chisolm 1 run (Mason Molique kick); SC—Jacob Burton 5 run (Dempster kick); R—Chisolm 24 pass from Tanner Morgan (Molique kick); R—Chisolm 1 run (pass failed); SC—Burton run (Dempster kick); R—Bryce Ashley 4 pass from Morgan (Molique kick); SC—Burton 2 run (Dempster kick); SC—Glenn Covington 23 pass from Josh Davis (kick failed); R—Ashley 83 pass from Morgan (Molique kick); SC—Burton 1 run (Landon Easley pass from Covington); R—Stefan Clarkson 21 pass from Morgan (pass failed).
Records: Scott County 11-2, Ryle 12-1.