The Corbin Redhounds saw their season come to an end three yards short of the end zone Friday night in a 34-33 loss to the Owensboro Catholic Aces.
Trailing 34-27 after a late Catholic touchdown, the Redhounds mounted a seven-play drive that led to a Eric Blackwood score with 1:11 on the clock. The decision to go for the win came out of the huddle and a couple of Owensboro Catholic timeouts.
Freshman quarterback Clint Cashen came out of the pocket looking for receiver Travis Prewitt. The throw was a little high and out of the end zone.
With no timeouts left, the Aces were able to run out the clock and take the win to the state championship game.
It was the closest state semifinal of the night between two outstanding programs. “It’s a shame someone had to lose that game,” said Catholic assistant coach George Randolph.
There were plenty of fireworks as the teams combined for 958 yards of offense in a very balanced game. Catholic had 56 plays for 537 yards of offense while Corbin had 55 plays for 421 yards.
The Aces won the battle of the air, throwing the ball 27 times and completing 17 passes for 361 yards while Corbin won the ground battle, rushing the ball 39 times for 223 yards.
Even the time of possession was nearly even with Corbin holding the edge 25:24 to 22:36.
“I was extremely proud of the kids,” said Corbin coach Steve Jewell. “They just kept fighting, fighting and fighting. Offensively they just kept coming at us and defensively we just didn’t make some plays.”
“Obviously, that played into our decision there toward the end,” said Jewell. A blocked kick earlier in the game by Dub Woody also played a part in the decision to go for two points.
“All week long he had been low with his kicks and that weighed in,” said Jewell. “We felt like that was a big opportunity at the time to get it in.”
“They just had pretty good coverage on it,” added Jewell. “They didn’t bite the way we thought they would.”
The state semifinal had a little of everything for the capacity crowd at Corbin’s Campbell Field.
Corbin jumped ahead of the Aces in the first quarter, scoring the first touchdown of the game on its very first drive. The Redhounds converted two third-down conversions to keep the drive alive.
On third and six from their own 40 yard line, a seven yard pass to Prewitt gave the Redhounds a first down at the Corbin 47. Two plays later they faced a third and eight when Cashen kept the ball and picked up 12 yards down to the Owensboro 39 yard line.
Junior Josh Ware then broke loose on runs of 13 and six yards to the 20 yard line and senior Brad Lawson followed with a seven yard run to the 13 yard line. Junior Eric Blackwood answered with a run into the end zone for the first score of the night. Woody’s kick made it 7-0.
Owensboro Catholic didn’t waste anytime behind their Mr. Football candidate, Zach Barnard. The Marshall University signee came into the game with 3,907 yards and left with 4,268.
He quickly guided the Aces down the field, scoring two minutes later when he completed a 62 yard strike to Heath Wright. Jared Johnson tied the game with his PAT.
The offensive action didn’t stop there as Corbin answered with a nine-play 73 yard drive to close out the first quarter.
After a Blackwood return to the 27 yard line, Lawson found a big hole and got to the 42 yard line. Blackwood followed with a two yard run before a pass to Isaac Mills ended in a seven yard pass and an injury to the senior.
Mills ACL injury will likely sideline the Corbin forward in basketball from the entire season.
Once play resumed, Lawson had back to back runs of three yards before Ware broke loose on a 18 yard run to the Aces 25 yard line.
Cashen took the ball to the 24 but it was Ware who finished off the scoring drive with a run of 17 yards to the seven. He went in from that point for the second Corbin TD. Woody’s kick was blocked but the Redhounds led 13-7.
The Redhound defense came up with a big stop after the Aces had driven the ball down to the Corbin 21 yard line. A second down illegal procedure pushed the ball back five yards then a delay of game caught the Aces off guard.
Senior Sean Gosser was able to get through the line to put pressure on Barnard who completed a pass to Jacob Randolph for no gain. Barnard missed on his fourth down attempt and the Redhounds took over at their own 28 yard line.
The Corbin drive was stymied by a 16 yard holding call that pushed the ball back to the Redhounds 18. Two plays later Corbin punted and the Aces took over at their own 46.
After a six yard gain by Boarman, Ware intercepted a pass by Barnard at the Corbin 22. It was a short series for the Redhounds as they coughed the ball up at the 49 yard line after a 13 yard run by Blackwood.
The Aces made the Redhounds pay for the mistake as they scored following an eight-play drive. Barnard hit Randolph on a six yard pass play with 3:13 in the quarter. The point after by Johnson pushed Owensboro Catholic ahead 14-13.
The Aces lead didn’t last long as senior Kenny Kysar returned the kickoff 90 yards for the go-ahead TD. It came on a reverse from Blackwood at the 10 yard line. The conversion failed but the Redhounds led 19-14.
Just when it looked like things were going good for the Redhounds after pinning the Aces at their own 20 yard line, Barnard hit Wright on a pass play that covered 80 yards ending in the end zone. Johnson’s kick made it 21-19.
The Aces scored on their first possession of the second half and threatened to blow the game open after holding the Redhounds to five plays early in the third quarter. A punt with 7:38 gave the ball back to Catholic at their own 43 yard line.
A pass to Wright gave the Aces a first down at the Corbin 27 but the momentum turned as Boarman was hit with a first down loss of three yards. A five-yard penalty pushed the ball back before Barnard was hit with a seven yard loss on second down.
An illegal procedure pushed the ball back to the 47 before Andrew Davis hit Barnard with a nine yard sack on third and thirty from the Corbin 47 with 3:35 left in the third period.
Corbin took over after a short punt at their own 26. A 38 yard pass play to Blackwood gave the Redhounds a first down at the OC 33. Ware pushed the ball inside the 30 yard line and a nine yard pass to Blackwood set up a first down at the 20.
Again Ware set up a second and five after a gain to the 15 yard line. A pass to Prewitt went into the end zone as Corbin pulled within two, 27-25. The conversion allowed Corbin to tie the game at 27-all.
Each team would come up short on a scoring drive. Owensboro Catholic drove to the 11 yard line where a fourth down pass missed. Corbin took over at their own 11 yard line with 11:25 left in the game.
The Redhounds faced a fourth and one from the 19 yard line. Lawson took the ball down to the four with a 15 yard gain. On first and goal, he bulled his way into the end zone where he fumbled as he crossed the line. However an official ruled that he had fumbled before crossing and Owensboro Catholic recovered with 7:55 on the clock.
The Redhounds once again stopped the Aces but a interception halted a brief series by Corbin with 5:12 left in the contest.
The Redhounds defense stopped the Aces for no gain on back to back completions but on third and 10 it was Barnard hitting Randolph for a 61 yard pass, pushing the visitors ahead 34-27 after Johnson’s kick.
That set up the final Corbin drive and the end of the 2004 season.
“These guys have been fighters all year long,” said Jewell. “Obiviously we had those losses in the middle with those kids being injured. But they picked up the pieces and kept fighting back and reeled off all those wins and got us to this particiular point.”
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of these kids,” added Jewell. “My heart aches for them.”
The Redhounds finished the season 10-4, inches away from the state championship.
Owensboro Catholic 7 14 6 7- 34
Corbin 13 6 8 6- 33
C – Eric Blackwood, 13 run (Dub Woody kick)
OC – Heath Wright, 62 pass from Zach Barnard (Jared Johnson kick)
C – Josh Ware, 7 run (kick failed)
OC – Jacob Randolph, 6 pass from Barnard (Johnson kick)
C – Kenny Kysar, 90 kickoff return (run failed)
OC – Wright, 80 pass from Barnard (Johnson kick)
OC – Brian Young, 35 pass from Barnard (kick failed)
C – Travis Prewitt, 15 pass from Clint Cashen (Cashen pass to Blackwood)
OC – Randolph, 61 pass from Barnard (Johnson kick)
C – Blackwood, 17 pass from Cashen (pass failed)