MADISONVILLE -- Fans that came out to Madisonville on Friday night got exactly what everyone expected they would get.
The Madisonville-North Hopkins Maroons came away with a 20-18 victory over the Hopkinsville Tigers after Hoptown failed to convert a game-tying two-point conversion with 21 seconds left in the game after trailing 20-0 in the second half.
Tigers' quarterback Jay Bland tossed a touchdown to Reece Jesse on a slant to cut the game to 20-18 in the final minute of the game.
A failed pass to Lane Rushing on the ensuing two-point conversion and a failed onside kicked allowed the Maroons to escape with a pivotal district win.
"Defensively, we just squashed them in the second half," Hopkinsville head coach Craig Clayton said. "Except for that first drive or two, after that, we controlled the game and controlled the tempo. We did everything we needed to do to win. Offensively, we were a little sluggish early, but I'm just proud of our kids. We could've gotten beat 40-0 they way that game started. We never gave up. The kids played exceptionally hard. They made big plays when they had to. We still made a lot of mistakes ... It's hard to put into words how I feel right now. I hate to lose but I'm so proud of our kids."
See Tigers/Page B3
The Maroons jumped out to a 14-0 lead after their first two drives of the game. One following a Hopkinsville turnover on the second play of the game and the other off the legs of the state's leading rusher Jeriah Hightower.
After those two drives, the Tigers' defense hunkered down. Despite the offense not getting in the end zone in the first half, Hoptown was in a good position at the break.
The Tigers' defense continued its strong play in the second half as the only score the Maroons got in the second half was a punt return touchdown by Gunner Dameron.
Following the score, Hoptown began to make the march back. A 22-yard touchdown to Jesse and a five-yard pass to Rushing gave the Tigers hope, and Jesse's second score gave them a chance, but due to the loss of kicker Mason Marschand, Hoptown was forced to go for two after every score -- which they were unable to convert on all three attempts.
Every time Madisonville got the ball in the second half, its drives were relatively short due to the Tigers' ability to stop Hightower.
Clayton said his team used a lot of the same schemes they did last year to slow him down.
"Put seven in the box and told them to come in there," Clayton said. "We pretty much did a lot of the things we did last year. This year we're bigger upfront defensively physically to handle those lineman as well."
Hoptown falls to 5-3 on the season, but Clayton said despite the loss, he thinks his team is on the right track.
"Most of my teams get right around playoff time and I think we're getting right where we need to be," he said. "Our offensive line took a big step (Friday night), so if they can do that, I think in a couple weeks they're going to be really good.
"I think when it comes around playoff time, we're going to about peaking."
The Tigers will get the week off before taking on Hopkins County Central on Oct. 25.
MADISONVILLE-NORTH HOPKINS 20, HOPKINSVILLE 18
HOP0 0 12 6--18
MNH14 0 6 0--20
MNH: Hayden Reynolds to Marquise Parker 10 pass (PAT good), 7-0, 8:43 1Q
MNH: Jeriah Hightower 32 rush (PAT good), 14-0, 4:21 1Q
MNH: Gunner Dameron 35 punt return (2-point no good), 20-0, 6:14 3Q
HOP: Jay Bland to Reece Jesse 22 pass (2-point no good), 20-6, 3:48 3Q
HOP: Jay Bland to Lane Rushing 5 pass (2-point no good), 20-12, 0:00 3Q
HOP: Jay Bland to Reece Jesse 5 pass (2-point no good), 20-18, 0:21 4Q
HOP: Jay Bland: 21-44-300-3
MNH: Hayden Reynolds: 6-18-48-1
HOP: Jayden Dillard: 9-67
MNH: Jeriah Hightower: 27-148-1
HOP: Reece Jesse: 6-58-2, Lane Rushing: 7-97-1
MNH: Marquise Parker: 4-40-1
Hopkinsville: 5-3, Madisonville-North Hopkins: 7-1