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NKY Football Playoffs: Dream Ends for Scott; Simon Kenton Holds On

It was a thrilling Friday night in Northern Kentucky with the third round of the high school football playoffs.

Undefeated Simon Kenton was held to its lowest points total of the year but was able to sneak out of Cooper with a win. Scott's record-breaking season came to an end in the final seconds. Highlands denied Covington Catholic again. Beechwood went to Louisville and came back with a win. Newport Central Catholic made a big statement in walloping Lloyd.

What a night! Here's what happened:

Johnson Central 27, Scott 26

Johnson Central took its first lead of the game Friday night vs. Scott when it mattered most, winning on a touchdown pass with seven seconds left to clinch a trip to the state-semifinals for the Golden Eagles, 27-26. On third-and-10 from the Scott 30, senior quarterback Bryce Workman scrambled to his right and found junior Geordan Blanton in the right corner of the end zone as time expired to clench victory from the jaws of defeat for Johnson Central.

Scott made it 7-0 early on, capitalizing on a Johnson Central fumble on the second play of its opening drive, courtesy of a 30-yard catch-and-run by senior Roberto London. But, the Golden Eagles’ countered with a sustaining drive of its own, capped off by sophomore Tyrese Allen plunging into the end zone from a few yards out to knot the score at 7.

A roughing the punter penalty called against Johnson Central on Scott’s ensuing drive enabled the Eagles to retain possession and cash in. Following a 45-yard run by sophomore Nelson Perrin down to the Golden Eagles’ 15, senior quarterback Danny Fitzgerald rolled left to find sophomore Ryan Muck in the end zone for a 14-7 lead near the end of the opening quarter.

Each team traded punts until Scott senior linebacker Trey Hicks intercepted Workman’s pass that bounced off the shoulder pads of Blanton and gave the Eagles good field position for their final drive before halftime. With 21 seconds remaining in the half, London took a handoff one yard up the middle for a 20-7 lead at the break.

The third featured each team once again trading punts until the Golden Eagles’ possession featuring long runs by Allen and senior Conner Ratliff, who took a pitch from Workman 50 yards, down to the Scott three. On the ensuing play, Blanton took it in up the middle to close the deficit, 20-14. But on its opening possession of the final quarter, Scott’s London broke loose down the right side, 78 yards for a touchdown to stretch the Eagles’ lead back to 26-14. 

Like it had done its previous drive, Johnson Central matched Scott’s score with one of its own. With good field position near midfield, the Golden Eagles were able to move the ball well against the Scott defense and inch closer once again, this time courtesy of a one yard run by junior fullback Gunner Slone, to make 26-21.

Senior Jordan Velasquez intercepted a fourth down pass by Workman with under three minutes remaining inside his own 10, appearing to nearly seal the game for Scott. But as it turned out, the game was far from over. Putting the team on his back for what was the game-winning drive, Blanton kept his teams’ season alive with a fourth-down-and-14 catch and conversion with under 1:30 left to play. The next several plays went to Blanton, including the game-winning end zone grab, just over the hands of the Eagles’ defender, extending their season by a matter of inches, abruptly ending the best season in Scott history, 27-26, captured by many Eagles’ players lying face down on the turf in disbelief opposite the sudden jubilee of the Golden Eagles’ players and fans.

Johnson Central (11-1) moves on to face Wayne County in the Class 4A semifinals next Friday at 7:30, while Scott completes their record-breaking season at 10-3.

-Jason Finnell