Logan County’s perfect season ends with 43-8 loss to Hopkinsville
RUSSELLVILLE – It was good while it lasted.
Logan County – a team that gained much attention this season by completely turning its football program around after losing 42-straight games from 2012 to 2016 – fell 43-8 to Hopkinsville on Friday night in the second round of the Class 4A Russell Athletic/KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl at Cougar Field.
The Cougars, who finish their remarkable season with a Class 4A, District 1 championship and an 11-1 overall record, committed three turnovers on the evening and couldn’t find its usual dominant rhythm.
“Coach (Todd) Adler has done a great job with his program,” Hopkinsville head coach Craig Clayton said. “I told him after the game that I was so proud of him to do what they’ve done this year.”
On the other hand, the Tigers fired on all cylinders, just like they have been doing throughout their last five games. Hopkinsville started the season 1-6, lost a 13-12 heartbreaker at Logan County back on Oct. 5 in the regular-season and then suffered through the passing of teammate EJ Austin, who passed away just two dies after that game.
The Tigers have since came together as a unit and have reeled of five-straight wins and are now in their first regional final since 2006.
“It’s great. I’m happy for the kids,” Clayton said. “They worked very hard, they never gave up and they have grown throughout the season. I’ve seen it coming the last two weeks in practice – everything has picked up another level and we had the best week of practice we’ve had all year. The kids are very focused right now.”
Hopkinsville (6-6 overall) exploded for 29 points in the opening quarter and then scored twice in the second quarter to tack on 14 additional points. The Tigers took their 43-0 lead into the locker room at halftime and never looked back.
Quarterback Javier Bland threw for 169 yards and five touchdowns while running back Mitchell Degenhardt caught two TD passes for 92 yards and scored on a 14-yard run. Additionally, wide receiver Gavin Marschand finished with two TD receptions and 59 yards.
“I thought Jay played exceptionally well, but everyone else did, too,” said Clayton. “It was a total team effort tonight. But if Jay can keep throwing like that, we’re going to be pretty hard to beat.”
Logan County received the opening kickoff after Hopkinsville won the coin toss and deferred its option to the second half, but Cougars’ quarterback Tyler Ezell threw an interception on the first drive of the game.
After the Tigers went three-and-out on their first series, their offense then caught firepower.
Hopkinsville took a 7-0 lead at the 7:53 mark of the first quarter on Bland’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Marschand. Just over two minutes later, the Cougars fumbled on a handoff from Ezell to running back Gary Hardy, the Tigers recovered it and doubled their score on an 18-yard toss from Bland to tight end Breydon Malloy.
Leading 14-0, a 48-yard TD reception for Degenhardt from Bland made it 21-0. Bland received the snap, dropped back and then threw a high pass to his wideout near the right sideline, who reeled it in and sprinted into the end zone with 3:01 left in the first.
“We had to (come out tonight) and show dominance,” Bland said. “We had to come down and do what we’ve practiced and play hard. We’ve just gotta keep doing it and keep going forward and (I’ve) gotta keep showing out for my team.”
Bland’s fourth touchdown pass of the contest came on a 29-yard strike to Marschand just before the end of the quarter, which gave Hopkinsville a 29-0 advantage after one full period.
The Tigers crossed the pylon twice in the second, punching in their fifth and sixth TDs of the night, respectively, on a 44-yard pass from Bland to Degenhardt and then a Degenhardt 14-yard run down the left sideline.
On Degenhardt’s rush, he took the handoff from his quarterback, went left and shed a few tackles before scoring to give his club the 43-0 lead at the break.
Logan County avoided being shutout with an eight-yard TD with 1:32 left, but it certainly wouldn’t be enough for a comeback.
Hopkinsville will now meet Franklin-Simpson (9-3) next Friday at 7:30 p.m. and will play a third-straight road game.
“We have come together as a family and have started loving each other and playing for each other,” said Bland. “That’s what you’ve got to do to be a good football team. We’re the ‘road warriors.’”
Tyler Mansfield; @_TylerMansfield