One final push came up short for the Apollo football team, and they fell 18-14 at home to Christian County in a grinding, penalty-laden game.
The Eagles (4-3, 0-2 District 1 Class 5A) struggled to find consistency on offense, though the held a lead for much of the night. Untimely penalties, turnovers and dropped passes plagued them and ultimately led them to a third consecutive loss.
Apollo was nearly able to overcome it all, but a mistake gave the Colonels a short field to work with late in the game. The Eagles led 14-12 with 3:04 to play, but a short punt combined with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty let Christian County take over on the AHS 46-yard line.
The Colonels were able to pound away and take the lead with 1:06 to go. The Eagles had a chance on their last drive, but a couple penalties kept them from advancing further. They eventually failed to convert a 4th-and-21 with less than 10 seconds to go.
Head coach Phil Hawkins said he’s taken the blame for the previous two losses, but this time it’s hard to look past the play on the field. Though the defense played well, the offense had too many mistakes.
“The defense played awfully well,” Hawkins said. “I think we’ve fixed the defense. I’ve took ownership of the last two losses. Tonight, it’s hard to take ownership when you have that many penalties and do some of the things we did.”
All three of the Colonels’ scores came after miscues by the Apollo offense. The first was set up by a fumble in Eagles’ territory late in the first quarter. Christian County originally returned the fumble to the end zone, but it was called back for a penalty. They got the touchdown a few plays later on a 20-yard run but missed the extra point.
Apollo took the lead midway through the second quarter when quarterback Colby Clark rolled to the right out of the pocket and found Sam Parm for a 20-yard score.
The Colonels went back in front with four minutes to go in the third quarter. Apollo was backed up in their own territory facing 4th-and-long and prepared to punt. The snap sailed high and Christian County recovered a loose ball in the end zone, though the 2-point conversion failed.
The ensuing drive for the Eagles’ ended on the first play of the final quarter, when Clark connected with Gage Hayden for the go-ahead score.
The teams traded punts before Apollo got a break via an interception by Hayden with 5:12 to play. The Eagles went backwards on the next two plays, and a short completion forced the punt that set up the final Colonels’ scoring drive.
“This is the first game I’m disappointed with,” Hawkins said. “I felt like we kept ourselves in a position to win. We made some adjustments, but every time we did something good, we got a penalty. You can’t win like that.”
He said it’s hard to figure out exactly what caused so many errors, because it’s not something Apollo has done this season. All they can do now is learn from it and get better.
“We haven’t been a penalty-laden group,” Hawkins said. “I don’t know what causes that suddenly. We’ll get together Monday and we’ll get better. That’s all we can do.”
The Eagles now turn their attention to crosstown rival Owensboro, who’s been on a roll the last month. The Red Devils (5-2, 2-0) have put up at least 42 points in each of the last three games, all while limiting opponents to 20 points or less.
The teams will meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Owensboro.