Slipping away

Jeremy Hamilton can't get his hands on a pitch from Scott County quarterback Andrew Hickey during Friday night's Class 5A district championship at Frederick Douglass. Ty Bryant fell on the loose ball for his third touchdown of the game in the Broncos' 48-7 win.

LEXINGTON – Scott County’s sub-varsity success against Frederick Douglass and the Broncos’ rumored reclassification in a year or two are silver linings right now.

At this moment, however, and particularly in a wet, windswept Class 5A district championship, Broncos-Cardinals under the Friday night lights isn’t a winnable fight.

Douglass sandwiched SC’s impressive, promising touchdown on the opening series by scoring on its first two plays of the game, a harbinger of many haymakers to come in a 48-7 rout.

Ty Bryant scored on a 51-yard pass reception and an 18-yard run before recovering a fumble in the end zone to complete the hat trick for Douglass (11-1), which won its fifth consecutive clash in the series. Three of those are double-digit postseason triumphs.

Scott County (6-6) saw a streak of 15 consecutive winning seasons screech to a halt, and the margin of defeat matched the Cards’ largest since a 62-21 loss to Trinity in the 2011 Class 6A championship.

“We got off to a horrible start to the year,” SC coach Jim McKee said. “We fought hard all year to create a respectable season that I’m proud of and I want the seniors to be proud of, and that’s that.”

Samuel Cornett, who committed earlier this week to accept a preferred walk-on offer from the University of Louisville, threw three touchdowns for the Broncos, who will host Southwestern of Pulaski County in the third round next Friday.

Bryant’s catch-and-run TD just 22 seconds into the contest set the tone for Douglass, which carved up SC with its underneath aerial attack.

Jeremy Hamilton provided a quick answer for the Cards, racing 47 yards on a sweep right to even it up. Freshman quarterback Andrew Hickey launched the drive in atypical SC fashion by hitting three consecutive passes to Hamilton and Ellis Huguely.

“Hopefully it’s a great learning experience for Andrew. He was really nervous tonight again to start with,” McKee said. “He completed some balls early. He’ll really, really grow from this. He got a lot better all year."

It was an encouraging sign after a 35-0 September defeat in which the Cards struggled mightily to move the chains.

But the sigh of relief lasted all of 10 seconds, which was all the time it took for University of Kentucky commit Dane Key to tiptoe his own sideline for an 80-yard return and score on the ensuing kickoff.

“That comes back to coaching,” McKee said. “I mean, gosh, how many mistakes did we make in every phase? We can’t kick off into the end zone. We can’t consistently punt. We can’t consistently catch punts. Those are all things that have to be corrected.”

Scott County’s next eight drives ended either in three-and-outs or turnovers.

Cooper Ranvier’s kicks through the end zone for touchbacks after every Douglass score were no small reason, pinning the Cards in a consistent hole.

“You’ve got to be able to control the ball on offense,” McKee said. “You don’t necessarily have to score, but you’ve got to be able to get first downs, and we couldn’t.”

And given their own short field with which to work, the Broncos rapidly piled on.

TJ Horton’s 3-yard run through a cavern at the point of attack capped a methodical 10-play, 54-yard match. Ranvier’s point-after made it 21-7 with 4:55 still remaining in the first quarter,

Bryant bolted through a similar parting of the waters for his second score at the 1:25 mark of the opening stanza.

When SC’s defense finally was able to slam the door on Douglass, Isaiah Kennedy’s punt pinned the Cards at their own 3-yard line.

That led to an option pitch from Hickey that slipped through Hamilton’s grasp and backward into the end zone. Bryant fell on it to pad the lead with 5:38 to go in the half.

Another swing pass sent SC for a loop when Tylon Webb scooted 43 yards to the end zone on third-and-12 to make it a 42-7 margin at the break.

SC subsequently crossed midfield for only the second time all night before Terrion Hicks’ interception at the horn ended the half in fitting fashion.

Cameron Dunn’s diving 26-yard catch from Cornett – every Scott County sympathizer in the stadium loudly and clearly thought it was completed out of bounds – triggered the running clock with 1:02 left in the third quarter.

Douglass needed only 299 total yards to deliver the knockout. Cornett threw for 184 of those and was 11-for-14. Dunn caught six for 67 yards.

In addition to his three different routes to paydirt, Bryant made a team-high seven tackles for Douglass.

The Broncos sacked Hickey four times, one each by Jalen Hand, Obadiah Commodore, Darion Neal and Ahmar Clark. Elijah Adams returned the favor once among his 3½ tackles for loss and eight total stops to lead the Cards.

Luke Colvin (15 carries, 71 yards) and Huguely (10 carries, 56 yards) led a SC rushing attack that simply couldn’t keep pace with Douglass’ quick-strike abilities. The Cards went 2-for-12 on third down and were stopped on all four of their fourth down attempts.

Scott County last went 6-6 in 2005. The Cards’  most recent win over the Broncos was a 28-27 verdict here in the second round of the 2018 6A playoffs.

“I learned a lot as a coach on how to do a better job. I always say the kids won six games and I lost six,” McKee said of the season. “It was good to beat Great Crossing twice. I’m not gonna lie. They're the county rival, and I was happy to do that.

“There’s eight months before we play again, so it doesn’t do any good to talk about what are we gonna do different. I’m not gonna do anything different. I’m gonna enjoy these seniors and what they did for our program. I appreciate them and their families trusting me as a coach.”

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