Daviess rallies to pull away from McCracken, advance in playoffs

November 6, 2021 | 12:04 am

Updated November 5, 2021 | 11:28 pm

Photo by Ryan Richardson

The Daviess County football program continued their winning ways on Friday night, defeating McCracken County 55-31. The victory marked the eighth consecutive one for the Panthers, who will advance to the second round of the Class 6A 2021 UK Orthopedics State Football Finals. 

Daviess County (10-1, 5-0 Class 6A) used some explosive passing plays to defeat the Mustangs for the second time this season. They will likely lean on all-state quarterback Joe Humphreys and the same veteran receiving core that propelled them to victory tonight when they face Henderson County at Reid Stadium next week. 

Head coach Matt Brannon said they would relish in the victory only momentarily before setting their sights on the Colonels. While praising his team’s effort, he reflected on some areas for improvement. 

“We’ve seen the same defensive look since playing Henderson in the regular season — applying a lot of pressure at the line of scrimmage and mixing in some zone with man coverage, he said. “I think we came out and played a little flat; we definitely have some areas for improvement and things we need to tidy up moving into Henderson.”

With a narrow 10-point lead and the third quarter nearing an end, the Daviess County special teams came through in a big way. McCracken County (2-9, 1-4 Class 6A) attempted an onside kick, but the Panthers’ Mason Boswell recovered it and took it into the end zone for a touchdown. 

The Panthers then returned the favor and recovered an onside kick of their own. Humphreys capitalized on the excellent field position and capped off the ensuing drive with a 3-yard touchdown run, extending their lead to 48-24 with 11 minutes remaining in the game. 

“After Boswell returned the one down the sideline, I had a feeling that they wouldn’t be ready, Brannon said.” “I felt like momentum was carrying us, and Shawn (Higgs) has honed in on how to do it and executed it perfectly.”

McCracken has struggled all year but looked to make adjustments and surmount some momentum heading into week one of the postseason. Several one-sided players played both sides of the ball, mixing in some defensive coverages unfamiliar to the Panthers.

“We knew they would come out and give us their best effort, and they did,” Brannon said. “They tried to get Joe one the run, but luckily for us, he’s hard to stop when he runs the ball. We knew we had some advantages against the five-man look, took care of that early, and then made some great halftime adjustments.”

The Panthers jumped on the board on the game’s opening drive when Humphreys found Isaiah Tomes 53 yards downfield to set up a seven-yard touchdown run for Bryson Parm. The Mustangs wasted no time retaliating as quarterback Pryor Lamb found a receiver in the corner of the endzone. 

Roughly one minute later, Humphryes converted a scramble situation into a 28-yard bomb to Luke Floyd in the endzone. Two consecutive failed 2-point conversion attempts made it 12-7 near the end of the first frame. 

With less than one minute left in the quarter, Lamb found teammate Zander Mayes in the end zone to give the Mustangs their second lead of the night. 

The second quarter was a little slower than the first; the first score came when Humphreys and Floyd connected for the second time on the night. The third time was a charm, as the Panthers finally completed a 2-point conversion to secure a 20-14 lead. 

With less than one minute remaining in the first half, Humphreys marched the Panthers the length of the field and capped it off with a 6-yard touchdown run. Daviess County recovered an onside kick on the ensuing play but failed to capitalize, making it 27-14 entering the half. 

The Mustangs settled for a field goal with 7:39 remaining in the third quarter for the first score of the half. Mere seconds later, Gunner Evans found some heavy blocking and took a pitch 62 yards to the house, extending the Panther lead to 34-17.

McCracken County picked up some momentum late in the third quarter, converting a 6-minute possession into Jeremiah Hughes touchdown, trimming their deficit to 10 before the onside kick fiascos. 

Humphreys totaled three touchdowns on 312 yards passing and used his feet for the other two, bringing his touchdown total to a game-high five. 

Sean Higgs tallied five extra points, bringing his season total to a perfect 52-52, while Evans led all backs with one touchdown on 104 yards rushing. Luke Floyd led the receiving core with two touchdowns on 74 yards, while Dees amassed 107 yards in the air.

After the game, Brannon’s message to his team was, “we aren’t finished yet — one down, four to go.” The Panthers are dialed in and have their sights set on a state championship.

November 6, 2021 | 12:04 am

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