Highlights: Douglass rides defense to third state finals; Boyle, Corbin set for 4A clash

James Crisp

Frederick Douglass scored on its opening drive and its imposing defense did the rest as the Broncos defeated Owensboro 14-2 on Friday to advance to the program’s third Class 5A state championship game in four years.

“It was a hard game,” Douglass head coach Nathan McPeek said. “We’ve played two weeks in a row, where it’s been a Maalox masher. Hopefully we can continue to improve. Defensively, we got a shutout tonight. The two points we gave up were on offense.”

Devaun Hart’s 2-yard run capped a nine-play, 46-yard drive and helped Douglass take a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Broncos squandered an opportunity for more early.

Pressure on Owensboro’s punter on the Red Devils’ next possession forced him into a failed run for the first-down marker and gave Douglass the ball back at the Owensboro 23 midway through the first quarter. Owensboro’s Dereon Crowe intercepted Cole Carpenter’s pass at the goal line to erase the threat.

“The momentum really changed the rest of the game,” McPeek said. “Offensively, we let that one play affect us in a lot of ways. It’s something we’ve got to build on.”

Owensboro, playing its fourth consecutive state semifinal game against the Broncos, showed it could play some defense, too. The Red Devils beat Douglass in 2020. On Douglass’s next series, Carpenter was sacked for a safety that cut its lead to 7-2 early in the second quarter.

The less-than-one-TD margin loomed over Douglass until it finally broke through for a 14-2 lead with 5:42 left in the game. Kentucky commit Ty Bryant ended the frustration with a flourish, scoring on a 51-yard run to essentially seal the victory. Bryant rushed for a game-high 98 yards.

“TJ (Horton) is a little banged up, right now, so we had to rely on Ty in the second half and he came through again,” McPeek said.

Douglass’s defense held Owensboro (11-3) to 120 yards of total offense, forced two fumbles, two interceptions, got two sacks and turned the Red Devils over on downs three times.

“We’ve obviously got to make some plays here next weekend, but I’m pretty excited to be in the state championship for the third time in our six years of existence,” McPeek said.

Douglass (14-0) will face Bowling Green, which won the state title in 2020 with a spectacular defense, and seems to have a similar unit after its 47-20 road win over Southwestern on Friday.

“It’s probably going to be another game similar to what we’ve played the last two weeks,” McPeek said. “Hopefully, we can manufacture enough points to be able to win a state championship.”

Purples crush Warriors

Bowling Green (12-2) dominated its hosts with a 26-0 first quarter on the way to a convincing 47-20 win over Southwestern in the other Class 5A state semifinal on Friday.

Purples quarterback Deuce Bailey threw for 149 yards and four touchdowns to four receivers as Bowling Green’s defense held down Southwestern’s powerful rushing attack for most of three quarters.

Bailey’s 43-yard scramble on their first series set up Javen Huddleston’s 1-yard TD run to open the scoring. Bailey then threw scoring TDs of 35 yards to Trevy Barber, 10 yards to Ethan Warder and 41 yards to Easton Barlow for the 26-0 lead.

After Tanner Wright got Southwestern (13-1) on the scoreboard with a 14-yard TD run in the second quarter, Huddleston answered emphatically with a 90-yard TD run to push the advantage to 33-6 at half.

In the third quarter, Bowling Green established a running clock margin after Bailey threw a 12-yard pass TD to Christopher Sweeney and Jake Napier scored on a 39-yard fumble return.

Class 4A

Boyle County 35, Central 21: Rebels sophomore Montavin Quisenberry delivered yet another highlight-reel play in an already spectacular young career to help Boyle County (12-2) hold off visiting Central (9-5).

Despite Avery Bodner’s three TDs, one a 57-yard run early in the fourth quarter, and a 21-yard TD pass from Sage Dawson to Jakei Tarter in the first half, the Rebels could not shake the District 4 champion Yellow Jackets.

Cortez Stone capped an 81-yard Central drive with a 1-yard run early in the third quarter and Justin Brent’s 98-yard kickoff return got the Yellow Jackets back in the game, trailing 21-13 early in the fourth. Central converted a fourth-and-7 play for a 17-yard TD by Xavier Brown to answer Bodner’s big TD to cut their deficit to 28-21 with 5:48 to play.

Less than a minute later, Quisenberry struck.

Sage Dawson’s high-arcing pass from his own 10-yard line appeared to have been sized up by Central’s safety for an interception at midfield. But Quisenberry managed to tip the ball in the air and come down with it as his two defenders fell to the ground. No longer encumbered, Quisenberry turned and completed the 84-yard pass play for the game’s final margin with 4:59 to play in the game.

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Corbin 49, Franklin County 35: Kade Elam threw for four TD passes, including a go-ahead score to Brody Wells with 2:29 to play in the game, as the Redhounds (14-0) held off a furious challenge from the visiting Flyers (8-6).

Wells then finished off the game with an interception return for a touchdown seconds later for the final margin.

Franklin County had lost to Corbin 40-20 early in the season, but battled to the wire this time.

Kaden Moorman’s 27-yard flea flicker pass to Amari Mays-Clark in the end zone helped give Franklin County a 35-34 lead with 4:04 to play. Moorman had a 20-yard pass to Emanuel Smith in the first half to go with short TD runs by Smith and Gilead Galloway for a 21-21 tie at halftime. Smith had a 28-yard TD pass to Mays-Clark midway through the third quarter for a 28-24 Flyers lead.

Corbin answered, however, as Elam put Corbin back in front 31-28 on a 34-yard TD pass to Cameron Combs to set up the fourth-quarter drama.

Class 3A

Bardstown 38, Mason County 28: Tyleeq Williams rushed for more than 200 yards and five TDs as the host Tigers (14-0) held off the Royals (13-1) in a closely fought battle of unbeatens.

Williams’ fifth TD early in the fourth quarter and a late 20-yard field goal by Tate Blincoe helped Bardstown pull away.

Mason County’s Brady Sanders’ had a 13-yard TD run and QB Keshaun Thomas pounded in a two-point conversion to tie the game at 28-28 early in the fourth quarter. Thomas had his own TD run in the first quarter and TD passes to Isaac Marshall and Landon Scilley late in the second quarter to keep it close.

Christian Academy-Louisville 50, Ashland Blazer 7: Cole Hodge completed 11 of 14 passes for 150 yards and three TDs and Gavin Copenhaver rushed for 149 yards and scored twice, the first on a 71-yard second-quarter burst, as the host Centurions (14-0) dispatched the Tomcats (9-5) to reach their third state finals and first under Coach Hunter Cantwell.

Hodge also scored on an 18-yard run in a 22-point second quarter for CAL that broke open the game. He threw his TD passes to brother Connor Hodge, Justin Ruffin and Copenhaver. CAL led 36-7 at half. Ashland scored on Braxton Jennings’ 8-yard run in the second quarter.

Class A

Pikeville 50, Newport Central Catholic 14: Blake Birchfield rushed for more than 150 yards and three touchdowns and caught another score as the Panthers (11-2) dominated the visiting Thoroughbreds (11-3).

Pikeville led 36-7 at half as Brendon Anthony’s 1-yard run opened the scoring and Birchfield got three of his TDs, one on a 24-yard scramble pass from Isaac Duty. Duty also threw a 12-yard score to Wade Hensley. Blake Caudill also scored for the Panthers.

Newport Catholic got within 22-7 on Kolton Smith’s rushing touchdown in the second quarter, but it could not hold down the Pikeville offense.

Raceland 49, Louisville Holy Cross 6: Logan Lundy opened the scoring with a 44-yard touchdown run and also threw for 149 yards and two TDs as the Rams (13-1) took down the visiting Cougars (10-4) for Raceland’s second trip to the state finals.

Noah Wallace rushed for 140 yards and two TDs, while Isaac Browning rushed for 117 yards and a third-quarter score in the rout. Lundy’s TD passes went 58 yards to Parker Fannin and 10 yards to Brayden Webb. Raceland also hit a trick-play lateral to TD pass from Lundy to Mason Lykins to Jules Farrow for 50 yards to take a 27-6 lead just before half.

Holy Cross scored on a 6-yard pass from Chris Perry to Logan McClellan in the first quarter.

KHSAA STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS

At Kroger Field

Class 1A: Pikeville vs. Raceland, noon Friday

Class 2A: Beechwood vs. Mayfield, 4 p.m. Friday

Class 4A: Corbin vs. Boyle County, 8 p.m. Friday

Class 3A: Christian Academy-Louisville vs. Bardstown, noon Saturday

Class 6A: Male vs. Bullitt East, 4 p.m. Saturday

Class 5A: Bowling Green vs. Frederick Douglass, 8 p.m. Saturday

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