Apollo wasn’t unable to cash in on a strong performance defensively in the second half, falling short of a comeback win as the Colonels ended the Eagles season with a 31-26 win.
Henderson County looked to take control of the game early, nearly finding the endzone at the 7-minute mark.
But a penalty brought them back, forcing them to take a 3-0 lead with a 23-yard field goal with 7:04 left in the first quarter.
Quickly forcing the Eagles to punt on the ensuing drive, the Colonels took advantage as Junior Jaheim Williams took one 78 yards to make it a 10-0 game with 4:40 left in the first quarter.
Needing to score and gain some momentum, Apollo was able to bounce back with a big run from junior Donte Dixon. His 53-yard rush thanks to nice blocking that made it a 10-7 game with 4:18 left in the first quarter.
Henderson County expanded on its lead early in the second quarter, after nearly shooting themselves in the foot once again.
Scoring on a toss, it was moved back to the 20 after the Colonels were called for a block in the back. However, Henderson County threw a fade into the endzone and somehow came down with it to make it a 17-7 game with 8:11 left in the second quarter.
Apollo’s struggles continued on the following drive, as a fumble had the Colonels right in the redzone.
However, the Eagles weren’t beaten on the fade again, as senior Mykel Whitney intercepted the ball but didn’t go down and put Apollo at the five.
The Eagles took their time offensively, before a 20-yard touchdown from junior quarterback Christian Combs to senior Evan Miller cut their deficit to 17-14 with 2:52 left in the first half.
Apollo nearly kept the Colonels off the board going into the locker room, but a quarterback sneak on fourth and two put Henderson County up 24-14 going into halftime.
The Eagles were able to force a turnover on downs during the Colonels first drive of the second half, looking to make it a one score game. But 40 seconds later Combs’ pass was intercepted and Henderson County took advantage of good field position.
The Colonels had senior Seth Goben take a keeper nine yards, scoring to make it a 31-14 game with 8:57 left in the third quarter.
Henderson County controlled possession for much of the third quarter, but continued to give up yards on both sides of the ball due to penalties.
Apollo was able to stifle the Colonels offense time and time again forcing multiple turnovers, but they weren’t able to take advantage until 9:16 left in the fourth. It was Combs finding junior Carter Contratto for a six-yard touchdown to cut the Eagles deficit to 31-21.
After Henderson County had shaved a lot of time off the clock, the Eagles got the ball back with 4:10 left to play thanks to a missed field goal.
They weren’t able to find the endzone as Contratto couldn’t corral it on 3rd and goal, but senior Harrison Bowman’s field goal cut it to 31-24 with Apollo having all three timeouts and 2:15 to play.
It seemed like Henderson County would work the clock and walk away with an easy win, but a big hit for the Eagles quickly changed the game as freshman Luke Canary recovered a fumble to put them at the 26 with 2:08 to play.
Apollo nearly had a chance to find the endzone, but as Rhinerson stretched to get the first down on fourth and five he was just short.
This gave Henderson County the ball with a minute to go, which was all they needed to run out the clock by taking a safety and ended the Eagles season with a 31-26 revenge win.
The Colonels racked up penalty yards all night long and the Apollo defense held them to just seven points in the second half, but the Eagles offense couldn’t cash in on those chances to take the lead.
Head Coach John Edge said that having to play from behind early made things difficult and took the blame for their shortcomings offensively.
“We got in a bind a little bit early on and we tried to play catch up,” Edge said. “We had our opportunities.”
Regardless, Edge was thrilled with his team’s effort all season long and said that the future is bright for Apollo.
“I’m still proud,” Edge said. “We worked our butt off and got a winning season and that’s two winning seasons in a row. We’re going to keep building, keep making this program as strong as it can and keep doing the little things.”
Edge was proud of the Eagles for finishing second in district play this season and is excited to take another step forward next year as they close out the 2021 campaign with an overall 6-5 record.