While Cameron Fogle might have only garnered runner-up honors during the Conner High School Homecoming festivities Friday night for our US Marines Backyard Battle, he was definitely a king on the football field, as he led the Conner Cougars to a 38-21 win over the previously unbeaten Cooper Jaguars in a crucial 5-A district battling front of an overflow crowd in Hebron
After allowing 63 points in a loss to South Oldham last week, the Conner defense dominated in the first half, holding Cooper (6-1, 1-1) to under 100 total yards and forcing the Jaguars to play in a position they were unaccustomed to; from behind.
The Cougars set the tone early on both sides of the ball. The offense took the ball first and capped an 11-play, 57-yard drive with a two yard run by quarterback Drew Barker to put Conner up 7-0 early in the first. And on their first defensive drive, Conner stopped the Jaguars' leading rusher A.J. Collins on a fourth and one inside the Cougar 20.
"Cooper's a great football team…we felt like if we could get them down, they hadn't played from behind," said Conner head coach Dave Trosper." We took the ball first, we went down and scored, and that was crucial. We talked about getting on top of them and seeing how they responded."
Late in the first, Fogle picked off the first of his two interceptions on the night to give the Cougars the ball at the Conner 40-yard line. Two plays later, Fogle went 39-yards to put the Cougars up 14-0 with 11:30 left in the second quarter.
On their next drive, the Cougars put together a 15-play, 64-yard drive, capped by a Barker pass to Brian Loney from five-yards out and the Cougars were up 21-0 with 4:12 left in the half. The defense forced another turnover on downs right before the half.
Following the halftime festivities, Cooper QB Tyler Morris got the Jaguars on the board with 10-yard run, but Fogle scored on Conner's next play from scrimmage from 56-yards out to get momentum back on Conner's side, putting the Cougars up 28-7 with 8:42 left in the third.
After Cooper failed on a fake punt and Conner fumbled away after a pass reception, Morris capped off a five-play drive with a 16-yard pass to Collins to cut the Conner lead to 28-14 with 4:46 left in the third.
Barker was picked off on the next drive on a deflected pass by Cooper DE William Ludwig, and the Jaguars cut the lead to 28-21 when Morris hit Collins from 12-yards with 2:59 left in the third, despite Morris being shaken up with a knee injury earlier in the drive that seemed to limit his mobility the rest of the game.
Conner answered with a 13-play, 59-yard drive, ending with a 23-yard field goal from Stephen Dunaway. Collins got the Jaguar in position to really make things interesting by leading Cooper to inside the 10-yard line. But the game turned when Fogle made an athletic interception, his second on the night, that thwarted the Cooper threat and gave the Cougars the ball at the three yard line.
"He's a football player, he's what you want…..he's a great defensive player, he's a great corner, he's the best cover corner in northern Kentucky," said Trosper of Fogle. "He can cover anybody, he can go play safety…he could play outside linebacker if we would let him."
Five plays later, Barker rumbled 65-yards to set up Fogle's third TD of the night, a one-yard run, to give Conner a 38-21 with 4:08 left to essentially clinch the game for the Cougars.
"We stressed a lot about how everybody was talking about how bad our defense is…. and we can't win a state championship with that kind of defense, and it's true," Fogle said. "But if we play defense like we did in the first half tonight, then we have a legitimate shot to go as far as we want to."
Barker led Conner with 158 yards and a TD on the ground, while Fogle added 136 yards on just eight carries, three resulting in TDs. Landon Montgomery had nine tackles to complement Fogle's night, which resulted in eight tackles to go with his two picks.
Conner steps out of the district but stays in the county when they host the Ryle Raiders next week, while it doesn't get any easier for Cooper as they will travel to Crestwood to take on South Oldham in another crucial 5-A district game.