Raiders fall to Hopkinsville in first round, finish 6-5
For the third consecutive season, Warren East ran into a Hopkinsville team hungry for another postseason run.
Hosting the Tigers in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs for the third time in as many years, the Raiders were dominated on both sides of the ball and dealt a 24-0 loss on Friday night at Jim Ross Field, having their season ended with a 6-5 overall record.
Warren East – which was also eliminated by Hoptown in a 21-7, first-round loss on Nov. 3, 2017 in Bowling Green – was limited offensively and its defense couldn’t keep up with an explosive Tigers’ offense.
“As a coach, I’ve gotta figure it out, but we’ve gotta figure it out as a program. When we play teams that are as athletic – or more athletic than us in this case – we’ve got to be able to move the ball,” Warren East coach Jeff Griffith said. “We’ve gotta be able to do that.”
Hopkinsville (5-6) led 3-0 after the opening quarter, 10-0 at halftime and went onto add 24 more points to its side of the scoreboard in the second half, never allowing the Raiders to string together any momentum.
Hopkinsville quarterback Ellis Dunn led the way with two total touchdowns – one passing and one rushing – while running back Jordan Hopson also recorded a rushing score to lead the Tigers to their fourth straight win.
With Hopkinsville’s victory, it advances to the second round and will travel to Madisonville-North Hopkins next Friday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Hopkinsville was the aggressor in the opening half.
While holding Warren East scoreless, the Tigers scored twice in the first and second quarters to lead 10-0 at the break.
“I felt like we did a good job in the first half on both sides of the football but we were down 10-0,” Griffith said. “I knew that we had to come out and get a stop to start the second half, but when they put that drive together and made it 17-0, that was going to make it an uphill climb for the rest of the game.”
Mason Marschand kicked a 34-yard field goal at the 7:10 mark of the first to record the first score of the night, and Dunn later connected with Tayshaun Barker for a 51-yard touchdown with 4:12 left in the second.
Along with its offensive production in the first half, Hopkinsville’s defense was also stout. While forcing Warren East to punt three times, turn it over on downs once and commit a turnover, Raiders’ standout running back Thomas Maxey was held to just 44 yards in the first 24 minutes, while quarterback Nolan Ford had completed just three-of-10 passes for 25 yards with 39 rushing yards.
Maxey – in his final high school game – finished with 71 yards on 21 carries. Ford, a sophomore, went 3-for-12 for 23 yards, while recording 27 yards on 12 carries.
“He’s a character, first and foremost, but he’s a tremendous athlete and a tremendous competitor,” Griffith said of Maxey. “You don’t coach a Thomas Maxey very often in your coaching career. We’ll certainly have big shoes to fill with him.
“You don’t get to coach many guys like him.”
Hopkinsville continued to execute in the ensuing half – especially in the third quarter.
Outscoring East 14-0 in the period, Hoptown pushed its advantage to 24-0 and dug the Raiders into an even deeper hole. Dunn’s 23-yard TD run at the 7:34 mark made it 17-0 before Hopson later ran for a 23-yard score of his own to put the Tigers up by three scores and a field goal entering the final frame.
Holding a comfortable lead, Hopkinsville was able to cruise throughout the final 12 minutes and into the second round.
“I’m proud of the kids and proud of the way we’ve played and competed throughout the entire year,” said Griffith. “Obviously it’s not where we want to be, but after the sting of this, we’ll be happy with it.”
HOPTOWN – 3 7 14 0
W. EAST – 0 0 0 0
HOPTOWN – Marschand 34 field goal, 7:10
HOPTOWN – Dunn 51 pass to Barker (Marschand kick), 4:12
HOPTOWN – Dunn 23 run (Marschand kick), 7:34
HOPTOWN – Hopson 23 run (Marschand kick), 4:24