By Dave Malaska
UNION, Ky. – Conner shocked Cooper with a late 62-yard pass from Drew Barker to Ryan Romey, then weathered a last gasp by the Jaguars offense by intercepting Will Ludwig on the goal line to grab a 26-21 win on Thursday night.
The hosting Jaguars (2-5) looked to have turned the corner on their tough season after Ludwig led a 77-yard drive as time dwindled, capping it with a 13-yard pass to Corey Fussinger in the front corner of the end zone to put Cooper up, 21-20, with just under two minutes remaining.
Conner followed with a two-play drive that took all of 22 seconds to dash the Jaguars hopes and add to a season of heartbreak.
After Romey dropped a Barker pass over the middle on the first play from scrimmage, Barker went right back to him on the second play. The senior receiver caught the pass, turned upfield, and danced through the secondary on his way to the end zone.
"I just keep thinking, 'Don't drop it, don't drop it,'" Romey said, adding that he was surprised that he wasn't immediately tackled when he did grab the pass. "I thought they'd be right on me. I'm actually surprised that I got away from them for the touchdown because I'm not exactly the fastest guy."
Said Barker: "We ran that play earlier in the game and they didn't cover it, but the receiver dropped it. So, we didn't run it again, saving it for the end because we knew if they didn't cover it the first time, they wouldn't this time either."
"Then my man Romey put the moves on them," he joked.
The win wasn't sealed, though, until Conner senior Andrew Way picked off Ludwig on the goal line with 27 seconds left in the game.
Ludwig, who completed 30 of 52 attempts for 305 yards and three scores, led the Jaguars down the field from their own 25 yard line. After completing passes of 16 and 18 yards to get Cooper to midfield, he found Fussinger streaking up the middle for a 26-yard strike to set the Jags up on the 16.
Two plays later, Way stepped in front of Ludwig's final attempt at the goal line, meant for Fussinger, and cradled it to preserve the lead.
"I'd been praying for the ball to come my way the whole game because I knew I could go up and make the play," said Way, who also scored two touchdowns in the win. "When I saw it I thought oh my gosh I can't believe he threw it. Now go get it. The defensive line did a great job getting him to rush the throw. It was a total defensive effort. A big win."
Conner (4-2) opened the game pounding the ball inside against the Cooper defense. They went up, 7-0, with 1:37 left in the first quarter after a 72-yard drive that included 50 yards rushing and was capped by Barker's pass to Way from two yards out for the score.
The Cougars added to their lead in the second quarter on a Barker pass to senior receiver Chris Creech from six yards out. Mason Buck's kick went wide, though, and they only led, 13-0.
Cooper, which had only 30 yards of offense on three possessions to that point, woke up and responded with its own 70-yard drive, as Ludwig began to find his targets. With 2:39 left in the half, he hit Bricking with a 9-yard touchdown pass and Logan Turner added the extra point to make it 13-7 at the break.
The Jags took the lead after the half, taking its first possession 61 yards on seven plays, aided by a costly pair of personal foul penalties against Conner. Ludwig found Aaron Morgan in the end zone for a 7-yard score as Cooper led, 14-13.
Their lead was short-lived, however.
Conner, starting at its own 33-yard line, got a 37-yard pass from Barker to Way to open its next drive. Two plays and 66 seconds after Cooper took the lead, Way scampered around the left side of Cooper's defense for a 19-yard touchdown to put the Cougars back up, 20-14.
That set the stage for the frenetic finish.
Barker finished the night with 11 completions for 131 passing yards and three touchdown throws to go with 88 rushing yards on 19 carries. Way, along with the game-saving interception, had 47 rushing yards and 53 receiving to to with two touchdowns.
Romey finished with two catches for 70 yards and the game-winning score.
For Cooper, Ludwig spread the ball around during his career performance. Fussinger caught 11 passes for 150 yards and a score, while fellow senior Aaron Morgan finished with six catches for 43 yards and another touchdown.
Bricking caught five passes for 34 yards and Cooper's remaining score, while Richie Pauls had four catches for 35 yards.
at COOPER 0-7-7-7—21
CON-Way 2 pass from Barker (Buck kick)
CON-Creech 6 pass from Barker (kick wide)
COO-A. Bricking 9 pass from Ludwig (Turner kick)
COO-Morgan 7 pass from Ludwig (Turner kick)
CON-Way19 run (Buck kick)
COO-Fussinger 13 pass from Ludwig (Turner kick)
CON-R. Romey 62 pass from Barker (run failed)
RECORDS: Conner 4-2 (1-1 Class 5A); Cooper 2-5 (0-2).
BEECHWOOD 28, COVCATH 7 – Colonels senior Sam Dressman caught eight passes for 111 yards and one touchdown, and he ran the ball nine times for 45 yards and another score.
His younger brother, sophomore
quarterback Ben Dressman, was 11-for-16 passing for 140 yards and two TDs and added one rushing score.
Junior safety Alex Wagner led the CovCath defense with eight tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles.
The Colonels improved to 4-0 on the road this season but are 0-2 at home.
at BEECH. 0-0-0-7—7
CC-S. Dressman 7 run (kick failed)
CC-B. Dressman 1 run (run failed)
CC-Hatter 4 pass from B. Dressman (kick failed)
CC-S. Dressman 16 pass from B. Dressman (Hornsby kick)
CC-Hornsby FG 22
B-Burns 21 pass from Fieger (Sletto kick)
RECORDS: CovCath 4-2, Beechwood 3-3.