By Dave Malaska
TAYLOR MILL, Ky. – Plagued by miscues and the South Oldham defense, Scott's high-precision ground game staggered in the second half as the Eagles fell from the ranks of the unbeaten, losing to the Dragons, 30-20, on Friday night.
The Eagles (7-1, 2-1 in district play), who came into the game with the district title on the line, were held well below their usual offensive output as turnovers and ill-timed bad snaps stalled second-half drives, allowing the Dragons to race to the win in the final quarter.
While Scott was kept scoreless, South Oldham (6-3, 4-0 district) scored on a pair of passes from senior quarterback Chase Lightfoot to his favorite target, classmate Davis Culbertson, for a pair of late touchdowns that proved the difference en route to clinching the District 5A title.
Trailing by four points midway through the fourth quarter, Lightfoot hit Culbertson down the right sideline for a 35-yard score to give the Dragons the 24-20 lead, then hooked up with Culbertson again for a dagger to the heart of the Eagles' home crowd with 3:12 remaining in the game.
Backed up to its own 18 yard line after a pair of runs lost two yard apiece, South Oldham faced a third-and-14 as Scott looked to get the ball back for a last stab at the win.
Instead, the Dragons ran play-action and Culbertson caught the ball behind the Eagles secondary at midfield then outraced sophomore defensive back Roberto London to the end zone to seal the win and the district title.
Despite trailing by 10, Scott made one last drive to try to get back within striking distance, getting to the Dragons 4 yard line before a bad snap on fourth down found Josh Castleman trapped behind the line with 37 seconds remaining and officially dashed Scott's hopes.
The Eagles' previous drive stalled at the Dragon 16 when Castleman was forced to jump on a loose ball after the snap. Paired with a Ben Osborne interception in the third, it proved to be an uncharacteristic end to the Eagles' drive for perfection.
"We didn't move the ball as much as we like to, and made some mistakes. They did a good job on us in the second half. I mean, we struggled with some bad field possession, but you've got to give it to them — they're a good team," said Scott coach Dan Woolley.
"Good teams make plays, and that's what they did tonight. They made more plays than we did."
The Dragons racked up 400 yards of offense, compared to just 297 for Scott, which came in averaging 336 yards per game in rushing alone. On Friday, their ground game mustered only 274 yards, led by a herculean 35-carry, 155-yard night by Castleman. The senior scored all three Scott touchdowns in between time in the secondary of the Eagles' defense.
Osborne ran for 53 yards, and threw two passes for 23 yards — both to Chris Roberts — for Scott.
For South Oldham, Lightfoot completed 10 of 19 passing attempts for 225 yards and four scores. Culbertson caught six Lightfoot passes for 169 yards and all four touchdowns, while the Dragons 58 rushing yards from senior Ticorian Williams and another 53 from sophomore Starr Thompson.
Early in the game, a shootout looked to be in order.
Scott took its first possession 64 yards in six plays to go up, 7-0, on Castleman's first score of the night, a 23-yard end run too the end zone.
Oldham answered with its own long drive, taking to ball 70 yards down the field and tying the score on Lightfoot's 23-yard scoring strike to Culbertson with 5:27 left in the first quarter.
Castleman's four-yard score at the beginning of the second half capped a 15-play drive to put the Eagles back up by seven, then Lightfoot found Culbertson open again down the sideline from 28 yards out to knot the game again on the Dragon's next possession.
South Oldham went up two minutes before the break on Drew Koch's 36-yard field goal, but Scott got a 51-yard kickoff return from London, and scored on Castleman's 8-yard plunge into the end zone with 1:15 remaining to go to the half up, 20-17.
That would be Scott's last score of the night, however.
After the game, Woolley gathered his players and told them that, even though they didn't reach their goal of a district title, the Eagles still have plenty to fight for. A win next week on the road a Conner and Scott would have home-field advantage when the playoffs open.
"I don't want to see anyone hanging their head," Woolley told his players. "Act like a champion because you are one."
"That's the thing about football — it's hard to go undefeated. I've been telling them for a while that now isn't the time to dwell on what we've done," Woolley said. "Now we can, for a brief moment, look back and be proud of what we've done, but at the same time there's a lot left to be done. We still have to go to Conner and win next week to get
the No. 2 seed for districts so we can host a game."
The Cougars (6-2, 2-1 district) rolled past Grant County, 53-6, on Friday night.
The winner of next week's tilt will host a playoff game, and the loser will have to play on the road in the opening round of the playoffs.
"It's still a championship atmosphere for us. We've never hosted a playoff game here, and that's been a goal for us. We wanted to be district champions, but that's not going to happen for us this year," said Woolley. "But that doesn't mean we can't host a playoff game, then make a run in the tournament."
S. OLDHAM 7-10-0-13—30
at SCOTT 7-13-0-0—20
S—Castleman 23 run (Berk kick)
SO—Culbertson 23 pass from Lightfoot (Koch kick)
S—Castleman 4 run (Berk kick)
SO—Culbertson 28 pass from Lightfoot (Koch kick)
SO—Koch 36 FG
S—Castleman 8 run (kick blocked)
SO—Culbertson 35 pass from Lightfoot (Koch kick)
SO—Culbertson 72 pass from Lightfoot (kick missed)
RECORDS: South Oldham 6-3, 4-0 Class 5A; Scott 7-1, 2-1.