In a true battle in the opening round of the playoffs, Hopkinsville High School edged its way into advancing with a 21-17 win over Calloway County.
The Tigers got right to work out of the gates, completing its first pass from junior quarterback Treyvon Jefferson to senior wide receiver Ryan Myers for a 20-yard gain.
However, they couldn’t get anything going after that and Calloway County took advantage.
After a rough first couple of downs, junior quarterback Kanyon Franklin connected with senior wide receiver Jaxon McKay for a 50-yard gain.
After a personal foul against Hopkinsville, the Lakers moved up to the 30 and a keeper from Franklin for a touchdown ensued.
After the botched snap for the extra point, Calloway County was out in front 6-0 with 5:51 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers answered on the following drive, led by a plethora of big gains from junior running back Jayden Dillard.
Dillard capped off the drive with a four-yard rushing touchdown, giving Hopkinsville a 7-6 lead. With the help of his offensive line, he finished the night with 161 yards rushing.
“I thought he ran hard,” Head Coach Craig Clayton said. “He [also] blocked really well. When he was fresh he was really good.”
The Tigers added to its lead shortly after, halting a fake punt from Calloway County on the next drive.
One play later, Jefferson puts a ball on the money downfield for Myers and a 46-yard touchdown.
Both teams would fight on defensively, blanking each other for the rest of the second quarter. This led Hopkinsville into the locker room holding onto a 14-6 lead.
Momentum remained on the Tigers side in the second half, keeping the Lakers out of the end zone and returning to theirs for the third time of the night on the ensuing drive.
After Dillard helped get Hopkinsville downfield, senior running back Ventrial Baker took the handoff 20 yards for the touchdown and the 21-6 lead for the Tigers. But Calloway County wasn’t done yet.
On their next drive, senior running back Aaron Fennel took one 44 yards for a touchdown, followed by a two-point conversion to cut the Tigers lead to 21-14.
After a big defensive stance the following drive, Calloway County converted a 20-yard field goal, further diminishing the Tigers lead to 21-17 with less than six minutes to play.
Both teams remained scoreless going into the final two minutes, with Hoptown holding possession and looking to run out the clock.
After some stout defense from Calloway County, Hopkinsville was forced to punt. The Tigers got a beauty of a punt, putting the Lakers at the three with 1:14 to play.
In the hopes of getting downfield with no timeouts, Franklin heaved a deep ball, but it fell short of the intended target and was picked off.
The interception brought Calloway County’s season to a close and sent Hopkinsville into the second round with a 21-17 win.
Saying his name needs to get back in game shape and that they weren’t perfect after not playing for nearly a month, Hopkinsville Head Coach Craig Clayton was pleased with his team’s play overall.
“Well it looked like our team hadn’t played in three weeks, but I thought our effort was very good,” Clayton said. “We did a lot of really good things and we did some things that weren’t very good… We get to play another week and that’s the main thing.”
After losing to Calloway County for the first time since 1994 back on Sept. 25, Clayton was pleased with his team’s performance and was glad to come away with the win despite feeling like the Lakers played even better this time around.
The Tigers will now head to take on Logan County in the second round of the playoffs next week, in hopes of getting revenge once again and advancing for another week of football.
HOPKINSVILLE 21, CALLOWAY COUNTY 17
Hopkinsville14 0 7 0 — 21
Calloway County6 0 8 3 — 17
CC: Kanyon Franklin 30 run (PAT no good) 6-0, 5:51 1Q
HOP: Jayden Dillard 4 run (PAT good), 7-6, 1:45 1Q
HOP: Trey Jefferson to Ryan Myers 46 pass (PAT good), 14-6, 11:30 2Q
HOP: Ventrail Baker 20 rush (PAT good), 21-6, 6:55 3Q
CC: Aaron Fennel 44 rush (2-pt conversion good), 21-14, 3:31 3Q
CC: 20-yard field goal, 21-17, 5:53 4Q