OLIVE HILL West Carter gathered around midfield Friday night and took time to reflect. Seconds later, they were joined by family, friends and community members.
It was mere moments after the Comets were on the cusp of culminating their record-breaking season with a trip to Lexington and a state final.
It was not meant to be after a late Beechwood touchdown and two-point conversion sealed the Tigers’ trip back to the title game with a 35-34 win in a Class 2A state semifinal thriller at Blankenship Memorial Field.
Through the disappointment, there were smiles after what West Carter accomplished this season and the memorable and historic moments along the way.
“We planned on playing in every game but we fell one point short of that,” West Carter coach Daniel Barker said. “It’s hard to be disappointed with our effort tonight. If somebody left here disappointed, then I don’t know what their expectations of these kids are. They gave us everything tonight and left it all on the field.”
Both teams left an impression with an offensive display in the fourth quarter. The Tigers and the Comets combined for 30 points in the final frame.
West Carter took its first lead with 8:32 left in the contest. Running back Leetavious Cline slipped through the line and raced into the end zone with a 14-yard touchdown run to give his team a 27-20 advantage.
Orry Perry hit Jackson Bond later in the quarter on a slant route to give the Comets the lead again after Beechwood answered with Liam McCormick’s long TD reception.
Cline became the first West Carter running back to collect 2,000 yards in one season. Bond is now the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards for a season.
“You saw it from everybody, offensively and defensively,” Barker said. “Our offensive and defensive lines played well. With some injuries, we had to play some guys at different spots on defense. Those guys made plays for us. I didn’t think the moment was too big for anybody. Everyone gave us their best.”
Beechwood (9-2) answered the challenge for a second time late in the game. Senior quarterback Cameron Hergott hurled the ball downfield and connected with Brady Moore in the corner of the end zone to bring his team within a point.
“It was a collective effort from our offense,” Beechwood coach Noel Rash said. “It certainly wasn’t our defense that got it done tonight. I was proud of our special teams, believe it or not. I know that we gave up that onside kick, but both played extremely well. West Carter was awesome. We just made one more play than they did.”
The difference-maker came on the next snap. Rash chose to go for two and reclaim the lead with 2:23 remaining. Hergott scrambled from the pocket and maneuvered around defenders to prolong the try. That gave Moore enough time to find an open space for the reception and complete the conversion. Rash said there was no hesitation in his decision.
“There were five minutes remaining when we took the ball and we knew that we would go for two,” Rash said. “I got on the headset and said, ‘We are going for two.’ The offensive staff said, we’ve already talked about it. That is a play that we work on every Thursday.”
The Tigers will have one more Friday on the docket this season. They will meet Lexington Christian at Kroger Field for the Class 2A championship.
Hergott accounted for 375 total yards and five touchdowns. He ran for two short TDs in Beechwood’s early scoring blitz to bolt to a 20-0 lead.
“Our receivers made plays and our offensive line blocked well, but wow, did (Hergott) do some special stuff tonight, “ Rash said. “He is just special. You are always confident when the ball is in his hands.”
West Carter (10-2) grabbed the momentum with a scoring drive before halftime. The Comets opened their night with three consecutive three-and-outs before producing positive yardage heading into the locker room. Blake McGlone completed the 10-play drive with a 18-yard scoring strike from Perry.
“We stopped getting penalties on offense,” Barker said. “In the first half, we couldn’t sustain a drive. You can’t get into any rhythm like that. The kids buckled down and settled in. Beechwood was doing some different stuff up front. Once we found a groove, the kids moved the ball like we have all year.”
West Carter didn’t reach its ultimate goal but played like champions in its first-ever state semifinal appearance, according to the Comets’ coach.
“Tonight, you saw what this team is about,” Barker said. “They are scrappers and they are fighters. The game didn’t start anywhere near the way we wanted it. They came back. Our kids believe in what we do. I am just so proud of their effort.”
(606) 326-2654 |
BEECHWOOD 14 6 0 15 — 35
W. CARTER 0 7 12 15 — 34
B—Parker Mason 26 pass from Cameron Hergott (Colin Graman kick) 8:58
B—Hergott 1 run (Graman kick) 1:33
B—Hergott 1 run (kick failed) 10:43
WC—Blake McGlone 18 pass from Orry Perry (Garrett Wolfe kick) 1:33
WC—Jackson Bond 21 pass from Perry (kick failed) 9:51
WC—Leetavious Cline 3 run (run failed) 6:56
WC—Cline 14 run (Bond pass from Perry) 8:32
B—Liam McCormick 34 pass from Hergott (Graman kick) 5:02
WC—Bond 30 pass from Perry (Wolfe kick) 5:02
B—Brady Moore 44 pass from Hergott (Moore pass from Hergott) 2:32
First Downs 14 23
Rushes-Yards 23-89 42-205
Comp-Att-Int 18-22-0 9-20-0
Passing Yards 287 144
Penalties-Yards 8-70 6-65
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1
Punts-Avg. 1-35.0 2-35.5
Beechwood rushing: Hergott 20-88, Courtney 3-1.
West Carter rushing: 36-191, Perry 1-(-11), Crampton 4-15, Bond 1-10.
Beechwood passing: Hergott 18 of 22 for 287 yards.
West Carter passing: Perry 9 of 20 for 144 yards.
Beechwood receiving: Mason 4-76, Moore 2-47, McCormack 3-92, Courtney 1-10, Berger 6-48, Stammer 1-10, Hatfield 1-4.
West Carter receiving: Bond 3-47, McGlone 5-81, Berry 1-16.