BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — Louisville Central quarterback Sydney Tedford hit receiver Marcel Malone with a 15-yard touchdown pass in overtime to give the Yellowjackets a 12-6 victory over Belfry in the Kentucky high school Class 3A state championship game on Friday.
Central won its fifth title in six years, the third straight time the Yellowjackets have beaten the Pirates in the final.
The touchdown pass came after Central’s defense stopped Belfry on fourth down on its overtime possession.
Tedford finished the day 3-of-7 passing for 33 yards with the touchdown. Malone’s touchdown was his lone reception of the day.
Central coach Ty Scroggins said Malone wasn’t to be Tedford’s first option on the winning touchdown. The play called for him to first look for receiver Devonte Yelder on the left side of the field.
But when Tedford saw that Malone had a good matchup on the right side, Tedford called an audible and told Malone to run a slant.
“Sydney just read it right,” Scroggins said.
Entering Friday’s game, Malone had just 11 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown this season.
“Words can’t even explain how I’m feeling right now,” Malone said. “It’s the best moment of my life.”
That moment was set up by a Yellowjackets defensive stand.
Belfry’s option attack burned up clock and yardage throughout the game, producing a 27:39-20:21 time of possession advantage and 163 rushing yards.
The Pirates got the first possession of overtime, starting at Central’s 10. Facing third and goal at the 4, quarterback Hasani Warren couldn’t connect with running back Josh Robinson on an option pitch.
Robinson recovered the loose ball but the play resulted in a 12-yard loss, setting up a fourth down at the 16. Warren’s pass to Keaton Taylor fell short and turned the ball over on downs to Central.
Two plays later, the game was over.
“(Central) made some great plays,” Belfry coach Philip Haywood said. “It was a heck of a football game. . Gosh, I feel bad for our kids because they fought all year to get here and overcame a lot of injuries. . My hat’s off to Central and Coach Scroggins and their program.”
Belfry running back Austin Hatfield ran for 105 yards on 19 carries in the loss.
Central led 6-0 late in the first quarter on a 28-yard touchdown run by Deris Cox.
Belfry responded with a 16-play, 74-yard drive that used 7:45. It was capped off a by a 13-yard touchdown pass from Warren to Tony Messer, tying the game at six.
Warren finished 4-of-5 passing for 58 yards and a touchdown. He was also sacked four times.
Central had a last chance to score in regulation, driving into Belfry territory as the clock wound down. Facing fourth and 4 at the Pirates 41 with 1:12 left, Scroggins gambled and went for the first down.
But Belfry’s defense responded and stopped Cox three yards short of the marker.
Rather than go for the win in the last minute of regulation, Haywood chose to play for overtime.
Cox led Central with 102 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
Central won despite being outgained 221-175 by Belfry.
Mayfield 55, Fairview 8
Mayfield’s Jonathan Jackson totaled 334 yards and four touchdowns as the Cardinals cruised past Ashland Fairview 55-8 in the Kentucky high school Class A state championship Friday in Bowling Green.
It was Mayfield’s ninth state title and second in three years.
Jackson, a senior running back/linebacker, ran 19 times for 278 yards and three scores, caught one pass for 56 yards and a touchdown and tallied five tackles on defense.
Mayfield lost the state title last year to Hazard, and Jackson said the team used that game as motivation Friday and for the season.
“It was all about redemption,” Jackson said. “We didn’t want to lose in the last game again.”
Jackson set the tone for the game in the first quarter, hauling in a 56-yard touchdown from quarterback Jake Guhy to open the game and then running for a 17-yard touchdown to put Mayfield up 14-0.
“The thing about Jonathon’s performance is that’s what he does every game,” coach Joe Morris said. “He’s averaged almost 300 yards a game in the playoffs running the football and plays every snap of defense.
“The first guy just doesn’t get him. As long as our offensive line gets a body on a body, he’s going to make something happen.”
Fairview, which was making its first state title appearance, showed early glimpses of a running game that averaged 352 yards per game during the regular season.
A 26-yard run by running back Elijah King and ensuing two-point conversion brought the Eagles to within six at 14-8. After recovering an onside kick and driving into the Cardinal red zone, Fairview was poised to take its first lead of the game.
But Mayfield forced and recovered a fumble, ending the Eagles’ last scoring threat.
Eight plays later, Jackson ran for a 31-yard touchdown, scoring the first six of 41 unanswered Cardinal points to end the game.
Mayfield went into halftime up 28-8 and then scored four third-quarter touchdowns to make the final score 55-8.
“Our guys are strong, and we just wear on you,” Morris said. “That’s what we’ve done all through the playoffs is dominate the second half.”
Fairview spent the day battling itself, fumbling eight times. Five of those fumbles resulted in turnovers.
“We just kept turning the ball over,” coach Nathan McPeek said. “If you keep fumbling the ball, you’re not going to win many football games. … We haven’t done that all year, and we chose this game to turn it over.”
Guhy finished the day 7-of-14 throwing the ball for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Deion Jackson and Tearron Sherrill both hauled in touchdown passes, while Jordon Tyler and Stuart Mills both added scores on the ground.
Overall the Cardinals gained 544 yards of total offense.
Fairview’s Chris Brewer ran 16 times for 148 yards. Fellow running back Devon Turner added 47 yards on nine carries. King was held in check after his touchdown run, finishing with 39 yards on 13 carries.
Highlands 47, Collins 0
Donovan McCoy passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more as Fort Thomas Highlands defeated Collins 47-0 Friday night in the KHSAA Class 4A state championship game.
The Bluebirds (14-1), who set state records by clinching their sixth straight championship and 22nd overall title, accumulated 476 total yards, including 323 on the ground, at Houchens-Smith Stadium.
Highlands got the win despite the absence of longtime coach Dale Mueller, who was in New York because of a family death. Defensive coordinator Brian Weinrich filled in for Mueller.
The victory Friday was the culmination of an emotional season, Weinrich said.
“It’s been a lot of emotion in a lot of different places this season,” he said. “For each guy to pull through in a game like this, it’s a little bit overwhelming.”
Highlands players and coaches found out Wednesday that Mueller wouldn’t be coaching them in the title game.
“By far the biggest source of motivation we had was Coach Mueller,” defensive end Seth Hope said. “We were all shocked. That definitely added some motivation.”
Hope led the Bluebirds with nine tackles, including five sacks.
McCoy was 10 of 15 for 153 yards with two interceptions and had 15 carries for 105 yards.
Colin Seidl added 115 yards and a rushing touchdown while Zach Harris ran 14 times for 96 yards and two scores.
Lawson Page was 12-of-26 passing for 106 yards for Collins (11-4).
The Bluebirds scored right out of the gates, with Ryan Greene hauling in a 14-yard touchdown pass from McCoy on the game’s opening drive to take a 6-0 lead.
Later in the quarter, McCoy struck again, finding Luke Turner on a 21-yard score.
Two second-quarter touchdown runs by Harris and one by Seidl sent Highlands to the locker room up 33-0 at halftime.
The Bluebirds kept the Titans spread offense off the scoreboard the rest of the way with a pass rush from Hope and a solid run defense.
Collins’ 38 rushing attempts Friday totaled just 67 yards.
“I thought there was some plays that could’ve been made in the first half,” Collins coach Jerry Lucas said. “We struggled to run the football all night long.
“The problem with the spread offense is if you’re going four or five wide and they’re playing coverage and you can’t run the football, then you’re going to have some problems.”
Though Highlands now stands alone with 22 state titles, it may not hold the record by itself for long.
Louisville Trinity will also play for its 22nd state championship tomorrow night as a heavy favorite in the 6A title game against Pleasure Ridge Park.
“We don’t ever talk about (the record),” Weinrich said. “We don’t talk about that we’re 1-0, we don’t talk about that we’re 10-0, we don’t even really talk about state championships. Our guys are so bought into it. They’re brainwashed. It’s a great situation we’re in right now.”
Collins, which finished just its third season of football, sees Highlands’ program as an example of something to become, Lucas said.
“They are as sound a football team as you can play,” Lucas said of Highlands.
“We certainly would have to rise to that level and that’s what we’re trying to get to as a program.”