Backed by the big-play combo of quarterback Drew Barker and wide receiver Brian Loney, the Conner Cougars opened their 2012 season in style by knocking off their archrival Boone County Rebels 31-19 before a packed house at Irv Goode Field/Owen Hauck Stadium in Florence.
Boone County (0-1) stayed in the game thanks to a punishing ground attack led by junior running back Mustafa Diaw. But, it was the Rebels’ senior quarterback Blake Ingolia who opened the scoring on the night with a one-yard run to cap off a game opening eight play, 63-yard drive to give Boone County a 7-0 lead with 8:39 left in the first quarter.
Conner (1-0) answered back on the ensuing drive, taking advantage of two big plays by Cameron Fogle. First, the senior returned the kickoff to midfield, and then he converted a fourth-and-5 from the Boone 45-yard line with a 40-yard run to the Rebel five yard line. Jesse McKeehan took care of the last four yards on the ground, and Conner had knotted the score at 7-7 with 5:32 to go.
After a short squib kick gave Boone County the ball near midfield, Ingolia fumbled on the next play from scrimmage that gave the Cougars the ball on the Rebel 43-yard line. But, the Boone County defense stiffened up and Conner turned the ball over on downs deep in Rebel territory.
Boone County’s next drive stalled in large part to a bad snap on third down, and the Rebels were forced to punt. This time, however, the Cougars took advantage on the very first play after the changeover when Barker hit Loney for an 80-yard pass for a touchdown. The two then hooked up for a two-point conversion to give Conner a 15-7 lead with 9:08 left in the first half.
Boone County then drove 65 yards on 13 plays behind Diaw and Casey Boston in 5:33, with Boston carrying the final six yards to get the Rebels to within 15-13 with 3:35 left in the half, but their two-point attempt failed. The teams traded short and empty handed drives to end the half with the Cougars maintaining the slim lead into the break.
Conner opened the third quarter by driving 70 yards in less than three minutes, keyed by a McKeehan 37-yard run to open the drive. But the drive stalled inside the 10, and the Cougars were forced to settle for a 25-yard field goal from Stephen Dunaway to increase the Conner lead to 18-13.
After two teams traded punts, Boone County retook the lead with 10:23 left in the game thanks to a long, run-heavy drive featuring Diaw. Ingolia finished the drive with his second rushing touchdown on the night, this one also from one yard out, and the Rebels led 19-18 after the failed two point conversion.
Barker started the next drive with a 45-yard pass to junior Chris Creech to the Boone 10-yard line. After a five-yard personal foul penalty was tacked onto the play, Conner took the lead for good on the next play when Barker ran it in from five yards out. After a failed two point conversion attempt, Conner led 24-19 with 8:43 left in the game.
After a quick three-and-out for Boone County, the Cougars iced the game when Barker and Loney connected again, this time from 56-yards out, and Conner led 31-19 with 6:26 left. The Rebels drove the ball to the Conner 25-yard line, but were stopped on downs with 1:56 left and the Cougars had their season opening win.
The Rebels will attempt to get into the win column next Friday with another county rival when they travel to Union to take on the fast starting Cooper Jaguars, while Conner will entertain defending 2-A Kentucky champion Covington Holy Cross in their home opener in Hebron.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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