Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

September 30, 2012

KCU falls to five field goals, 15-14

Campbellsville's former soccer player Clarke saves the day

GRAYSON — To Campbellsville's Casey Clarke, kicking a football is no harder than booting a soccer ball.

Good thing the Tigers had him. His five field goals — including a 41-yarder with 19 seconds left in the third quarter — were enough for Saturday's 15-14 win at Kentucky Christian.

The England-born Clarke also hit from 20, 34, 37 and a career-high 52 yards. He completed his four-year career as a midfielder for the soccer team a year ago, but he wanted to use his final year of athletic eligibility.

“I asked the special teams coach (Josh Dye) if I could try it,” Clarke said. “It’s pretty much the same thing as kicking a soccer ball.”

On the 41-yarder, Clarke had to hurry to take the number of steps he needs to prepare to kick. He doesn’t have a set number, but he said he was closer to holder Brandon Brown than he wanted to be.

“It still went in, so it doesn’t matter now,” Clarke said.

Campbellsville head coach Perry Thomas admits his team made mistakes — quarterback Bryan Parnes threw an interception and the Tigers averaged just 3.2 yards per play – but …

“We didn’t have those back-breaking mistakes that we had the first four games,” Thomas said. “Three of those first four games we should've won.”

Campbellsville stopped a four-game losing streak on Clarke’s right foot, while KCU kicker Andrew Slikker missed three times, including a 34-yarder with 10 seconds left in the game.

KCU dropped its third straight.

“We just didn’t execute the whole entire game,” KCU coach Mike Furrey said. “Our defense played really well, they gave up, what, five field goals. We missed a field goal to win the game, and you can't ask for anything else.”

Clarke's field goals and Slikker's misses negated KCU quarterback Graham Johnston's season-high 293 passing yards, including 29- and 67-yard touchdown tosses to Caleb Cox. Johnston  also ran 23 times for 89 yards.

“(Johnston) was getting out of the pocket a little bit on his own, by design to get him out so he could have some open room to throw,” Furrey said.

On the Knights' final drive, Johnston hit Hayeden Welch twice for 32 yards and Lane Knost for another 40. After Johnston lost four yards and threw two incompletions, Slikker sent his last miss wide left.

Besides the missed field goals, KCU (2-3) sometimes had trouble protecting Johnston — he was sacked three times. There was a third problem: the Knights converted just four of 14 third down chances.

Johnston completed passes to just about every area of the field.

Start with the first score to Cox down the middle of the field.

Next, a 10-yard strike across the middle to Knost, which set up Johnston-to-Cox for the 67-yarder down the left sideline.

Campbellsville took its opening drive to the KCU 10, but it stalled and Clarke salvaged the march with his 20-yarder.

KCU's defense allowed what you might think was a lot of yards, but the Tigers worked for their 132 at halftime. Campbellsville converted just two of nine third-down plays – and just 3-of-15 for the day.

There were at least two individual Knight defensive highlights: Jermichael Williams' interception and Marvin Newkirk's sack of Parnes. For the game, KCU recorded three sacks to go with eight tackles for loss for minus-25 yards.

Campbellsville (1-4) surrendered 387 total yards while gaining just 186, but the Tigers also stalled five KCU drives in the second half. Defensive backs Earl McCann and Darius Skinner each picked off a pass, and linebacker Blake Young blocked Slikker's kick with less than two minutes to go in the game.

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