By Dan Wright
Conner was unable to convert a pair of late scoring opportunities to take the lead in the fourth quarter, falling 35-34 to Anderson County in the Class 5A playoffs for the second time in the past three seasons.
Anderson County led, 35-21, entering the fourth quarter, but Jesse McKeehan caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Drew Barker to pull the Cougars to within a touchdown. McKeehan later intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown to bring Conner to within a point.
Conner lined up for a kick that would have tied the score, but ran a fake field goal, with a pass by Drew Barker falling incomplete to keep the Bearcats ahead by a point.
Anderson County fumbled the ball back to Conner at the Bearcats 28-yard line, but senior Ross Cox intercepted a tipped pass and the Bearcats were able to run off the remaining 5:17 in the game.
On offense Cox had six catches for 77 yards and 15 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown, also bringing a kickoff back 88 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Junior Dusty Puckett returned another kickoff for a touchdown to open the second half, but McKeehan immediately answered with an 83-yard kick return for a touchdown as both teams scored touchdowns in the first 30 seconds of the second half.
University of Kentucky signee Drew Barker completed six of 23 passes for 123 yards in his final game for the Cougars.
at ANDERSON 0-14-21-0—35
AC-Cox 2 run (Rose kick)
C-Warwick 8 run (Buck kick)
AC-Cox 88 kick return (Rose kick)
AC-Puckett 90 kick return (Rose kick)
C-McKeehan 83 kick return (Buck kick)
AC-Ashburn 31 pass from Carmichael (Rose kick)
C-Way 32 pass from Barker (Buck kick)
AC-Ashburn 4 pass from Carmichael (Rose Kick)
C-McKeehan 50 pass from Barker (Buck kick)
C-McKeehan 37 interception return for TD (pass failed)
Records: Anderson County 10-2; Conner 8-4.
COVINGTON CATHOLIC 42, JOHNSON CENTRAL 14 – Covington Catholic held high-scoring Johnson Central to two touchdowns, defeating the previously unbeaten Golden Eagles in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs for the second straight year, 42-14, Friday night.
Johnson Central entered the game averaging 58.1 points per game, with at least 36 points in each of their previous 11 games.
The Golden Eagles scored on their first possession to take an early 8-0 lead and added an 81-yard touchdown run by sophomore Jordan Bailey in the final minute of the first half, but Johnson Central would not score again.
Senior running back Luke Bir and sophomore quarterback Ben Dressman led the Colonels offense with Bir rushing 11 times for 186 yards and two touchdowns and Dressman rushing 14 times for 168 yards. Dressman also completed four-of-eight passes for 52 yards and a touchdown.
Bir answered the Golden Eagles first touchdown with a70-yard touchdown run on the next play from scrimmage and Dressman had a 56-yard touchdown run on the first possession of the second half to put CovCath ahead, 28-14.
Junior defensive back Adam Wagner added a 23-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter before Bir capped the scoring with a 9-yard touchdown run.
The win sets up a postseason rematch with rival Highlands for the second year in a row.
The Bluebirds won last year’s playoff game, 28-13, and defeated the Colonels, 42-6, on Sept. 28 this season.
at J. CENTRAL 8-6-0-0—14
JC-Young 2 run (Belcher run)
C-Bir 70 run (Litzler kick)
C-M. Rensing 24 pass from B. Dressman (Litzler kick)
C-B. Dressman 24 run (Litzler kick)
JC-Bailey 81 run (kick blocked)
C-B. Dressman 56 run (Litzler kick)
C-Wagner 23 interception return (Litzler kick)
C-Bir 9 run (Litzler kick)
RECORDS: Covington Catholic 10-2, Johnson Central 11-1.
HIGHLANDS 56, ASHLAND BLAZER 6 — The Bluebirds limited Blazer to just 38 yards of offense in routing the Tomcats.
Senior linebacker Joey Kruse added a fumble return for a touchdown for the second straight week as the Bluebirds defense scored as many touchdowns as it gave up.
Senior quarterback Drew Houliston led the offense by completing 13 of 16 passes for 243 yards and five touchdowns in less than two quarters of play.
Highlands gained 413 yards in all in the game.
A. BLAZER 0-0-0-6—6
at HIGHLANDS 29-13-7-7—56
H-Veneman 18 pass from Houliston (Doughery kick)
H-Weyer 12 pass from Houliston (Dougherty kick)
H-Feggins 25 pass from Houliston (Doughery kick)
H-Veneman 23 pass from Houliston (B. Hergott pass from Houliston)
H-Cain 12 pass from Houliston (Dougherty kick)
H-Kendall 12 run (kick failed)
H-Kruse 22 fumble return (Miller kick)
A-Long 7 run (run failed)
H-Grau 9 run (Miller kick)
RECORDS: Highlands 11-1; Ashland Blazer 8-4.
BEECHWOOD 47, PARIS 3 – Junior Jon Stokes touched the ball just seven times, but managed four touchdowns for the Tigers.
Stokes had five carries for 12 yards with three touchdowns and also caught two passes, including one of the four touchdown passes thrown by sophomore quarterback Kyle Fieger.
Fieger completed 12 of 19 passes for 184 yards.
running back Joe Studer had 15 carries for 92 yards as the Tigers gained over 200 yards on the ground.
The Tigers will play Frankfort in the Class A quarterfinals next week.
at BEECH. 0-20-21-6—47
B-Stokes 7 run (Sletto kick)
B-Stokes 14 pass from Fieger (Sletto kick)
B-C. Burns 9 pass from Fieger (kick failed)
P-Park FG 31
B-Stokes 2 run (Sletto kick)
B-Stokes 2 run (Sletto kick)
B-Hayden 54 pass from Fieger (Sletto kick)
B-Stringer 19 pass from Fieger (kick failed)
RECORDS: Beechwood 8-4, Paris 9-3.
FRANKFORT 24, BELLEVUE 14 – The Tigers record-setting season came to an end as Frankfort scored nine points in the final minute of the first half to pull away.
Senior quarterback Tyler Ackerson passed for 152 yards to go over 3,000 passing yards for the season and junior receiver Blake Stephenson caught three passes for 35 yards to go over 1,000 receiving yards.
Stephenson also had a 73-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter, but the Tigers committed six turnovers themselves.
One of those was a fumble after sophomore quarterback Anthony Robinson had completed a fourth-down pass for a touchdown late in the first quarter. Frankfort took advantage, adding a 26-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to take a 16-0 lead into the locker room.
at FRANKFORT 7-9-8-0—24
F-Jones 19 run (Spade kick)
F-Smith 19 pass from Robinson (kick blocked)
F-Spade FG 26
B-Stephenson 73 interception return (Hazares run)
F-Robinson 11 run (Acree run)
B-N. Ackerson 4 pass from T. Ackerson (run failed)
Records: Frankfort 10-2, Bellevue 7-5.
GALLATIN COUNTY 49, CARROLL COUNTY 26 – Gallatin County scored 28 straight points to start the second half to pull away from the Panthers and advance to the state quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
Junior running back Chris Brown scored three touchdowns and senior running back Brennan Bishop score two more to lead the Wildcats.
Gallatin County will host Newport Central Catholic next week.
CARROLL CO. 0-20-0-6—26
at GALLATIN CO. 7-14-7-21—49
GC-Bishop 2 run (Flores kick)
CC-Wise 2 run (kick failed)
GC-Brown 32 run (Flores kick)
CC-Adams 5 run (Byrd kick)
GC-Brown 9 pass from Chapman (Flores kick)
CC-Newby 27 pass from Adams (Byrd kick)
GC-Chapman 1 run (Flores kick)
GC-Brown 26 run (Flores kick)
GC-Bishop 15 run (Flores kick)
GC-Yarnell 16 run (Flores kick)
CC-Wise 18 pass from Adams (run failed)
RECORDS: Gallatin County 10-2, Carroll County 6-6.
BUTLER 14, CAMPBELL COUNTY 7 – Senior running back Joe Brown ran 89 yards for a touchdown to put the Bears ahead, 14-0 in the third quarter, and the Camels were unable to come back in the Class 6A playoffs.
Senior quarterback Avery Wood accounted for Campbell County’s only touchdown with a short run in the third quarter, but the Camels could not reach the end zone again to tie the score.
at BUTLER 7-0-7-0—14
RECORDS: Butler 10-2, Campbell County 8-4.