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NKY Football: Holmes Gets First Win; Ludlow Still Unbeaten; Scott Survives

As another week of high school football is put in the books in Northern Kentucky, some are able to chalk up their first victory while others see their woes continues. 

Holmes won for the first time this season, but Holy Cross found itself on the wrong side of a beating again.

Ludlow held off Williamsburg to stay unbeaten and Scott survived in overtime.

Highlands played Simon Kenton close, but the Pioneers held on. Covington Catholic pounded its visitors from Columbus, Oh.

Here is how Friday night went down:

Ludlow 39, Williamsburg 28

The Ludlow Panthers and Williamsburg Yellow Jackets entered Friday night’s game ranked first and fourth, respectively in scoring, with Ludlow averaging 46 and Williamsburg, 37 per-game; something had to give. The Panthers led by as much as 13 in the third quarter but found itself down by one headed into the fourth – a microcosm of the seesaw battle that took place between two teams that plan on being a factor as the season enters its second half next week.

Beginning on its own 21-yard line, Williamsburg’s Alec Poore’s first pass of the game was tipped and intercepted by Ludlow’s Max Hathaway to give the Panthers an early opportunity to capitalize. However, they were unable and turned the ball back to the Yellow Jackets following a quarterback-designed run by Justin Blackburn that was stopped for no gain inside the Williamsburg 10. On his teams’ ensuing drive, Poore found receiver Dalton Ponder over the middle into Ludlow territory followed by a roughing-the-passer penalty against the Panthers. Two plays later, Ponder broke several tackles on his way into the end zone for a touchdown and a 6-0 Yellow Jackets lead 6:44 into the first quarter after their offensive pass interference penalty was declined by the Panthers on the two-point conversion attempt.

Ludlow’s next drive again ended inside the Williamsburg 20. On fourth-and-10, Blackburn scrambled right, looked to the middle of the field, and spotted Ian Vallandingham in the end zone. But, he didn’t see linebacker Darrell White in coverage, who picked off Blackburn and snuffed out the Panthers drive. Despite the 20-yard completion up the right sideline to Ponder on first down, Williamsburg gave the ball right back to Ludlow, as Vallandingham intercepted Poore. The Panthers converted it into points as Blackburn kept it himself several plays later for the first of his three scores on the evening and a 7-6 Ludlow lead into the second quarter.

Eli Mattingly jumpstarted the next Williamsburg scoring drive with a 50-yard pass reception before being brought down at the Panthers 25. Then Poore found White in the back of the end zone for a four-yard scoring play and a 14-7 Yellow Jackets lead after a successful two-point conversion. Indicative of the game’s pattern, Ludlow countered with Sean Stratton’s 14-yard touchdown run to pull even with 1:29 remaining in the half. But they were not finished. After forcing a turnover on downs, Ludlow struck quickly. Blackburn hit a diving Vallandingham at the Williamsburg 4-yard line. Stratton then put his team up by six with another score and a 20-14 lead into halftime.

The fireworks didn’t stop in the second half as Cody Kraemer took the opening kickoff nearly 70 yards for the score and a two-touchdown margin, 27-14. After and three-and-out on its ensuing possession, Williamsburg narrowed the Panthers lead to seven, at 27-20, following another big reception by Mattingly and a Ponder run created by tackle Trey Hendrix’s block. The momentum stayed on the visitors’ side on the kickoff, as the Yellow Jackets recovered one of the Ludlow up mens’ fumbled handle. On third-and-28 at their own 40, Poore found Mattingly inside the Panthers 20, and the receiver outran Ludlow defenders into the end zone. The Yellow Jackets went up by one, 28-27.

But Blackburn saved his best for the last quarter. Williamsburg linebacker Hunter Brown intercepted the Ludlow quarterback inside the Panthers 20. Blackburn chased Brown, stripping him of the football as he neared the end zone, keeping the Yellow Jackets off the board from a potential chance to increase its lead. Leading the Panthers from their own 12, Blackburn gained 15 yards on a straight ahead run – something Head Coach Greg Taphouse and his staff heavily relied upon once Williamsburg players increasingly began to cramp up as the second half progressed. “When they started cramping up it was full throttle, we were not letting up. We were here (at home) and we were trying to make a statement so it was full bore, absolutely.”

Stratton and Blackburn sealed the Ludlow victory with a 23-yard run and 49-yard score, respectively, against the worn down Yellow Jackets defense.

Ludlow (5-0) will play their third consecutive week at home next Friday at 7:00 p.m. against Bishop Brossart.

And the season’s second half? “That was fun but now we have to get better each game. We still had a few mistakes here and there, we fine tune those, go into conference and district and we’re looking for a fun second half,” Taphouse said.

For Ludlow, maybe an historic one, too.

Frankfort 45, Newport 15

Newport dropped its fourth straight game as Frankfort rolled into town and left with a big win.

The game was nasty - players and coaches were arguing; coaches and officials were arguing.

Frankfort broke out to an early lead with a 91-yard touchdown pass and never looked back.

The Wildcats had a couple of bright spots, including converting on a 3rd-and-21 for a first down but Frankfort was too much.

Next week is homecoming in Newport (1-4) when Bellevue visits.

Holmes 14, Harrison Co. 6

The streak is over the Bulldogs.

Holmes hit the road to Harrison Co. and returned Friday night with its first win of the season.

In next week's crosstown match-up, Holmes (1-4) may be able to make it two in a row against a young, struggling Holy Cross squad.

Beechwood 62, Holy Cross 0

Beechwood rebounded big after last week's whooping at the hands of Covington Catholic. Any frustration was taken out on Bruce Kozerski's young Indians.

Beechwood (4-1) will have its hands full next week when undefeated Simon Kenton comes to Ft. Mitchell.

Meanwhile, Holy Cross (0-6), which has been outscored 335 to 42 this season, will visit rival Holmes.

Scott 27, Mason Co. 21 (OT)

Scott escaped its visit to Maysville with a strong overtime win against Mason Co.

The Eagles (3-2) return to Taylor Mill next Friday night for a date with Harrison Co.

Covington Catholic 35, St. Francis de Sales (Oh.) 7

The Colonels continue to appear untouchable.

Covington Catholic handed one of Ohio's top program a lopsided loss on Friday night in Park Hills.

Now at 6-0, and having outscored its opponents 253 to 49 this season, Cov Cath gears up for another date at home with a top team from another state: Indianapolis's Bishop Chatard.

Bracken Co. 49, Dayton 8

Dayton's winning streak was stopped at one, as the Greendevils went down big on the road in Brooksville.

Next week, Dayton (1-4) looks to improve its fortunes when Eminence comes to town.

Conner 35, Newport Central Catholic 27

It was a battle in Hebron but the hosting Cougars managed to hold off their visitors from Newport.

Conner (3-2) hosts Lloyd next week while the Thoroughbreds (3-3) have next week off, returning to action on October 7 at Holy Cross. 

Simon Kenton 35, Highlands 30

A struggling Highlands squad managed to give Simon Kenton its closes match of the season but the Pioneers held on in Independence.

While the Pioneers remain unbeaten, the Bluebirds have now dropped four in a row.

Next week, Simon Kenton (6-0) visits Beechwood while Highlands (2-4) hosts Dixie Heights.

Walton-Verona 61, Owen Co. 0

The Bearcats bounced back from last week's loss in a big way, recording its third lopsided shut-out win of the season.

Next week, Walton (4-2) travels to Trimble Co.

Lloyd 46, Grant Co. 18

Make it three straight wins for the Juggernauts.

Lloyd welcomed Grant Co. to Erlanger on Friday and then put it to the Braves.

Next week, Lloyd (4-1) has a visit with Conner.

Dixie 30, Boone Co. 0

After losing its first four games of the season, Dixie has rattled off two straight wins.

The Colonels overpowered the Rebels on Friday night in Edgewood.

Dixie (2-4) goes to Cooper next week while Boone (1-4), which has been outscored 81 to 0 in its past two games, has a date on the road with George Rogers Clark.

Bishop Brossart 34, Nicholas Co. 0

Brossart looks to be in good shape heading into a tough match-up next week.

The Mustangs hand no trouble with their visitors from Carlisle.

But next week, Brossart (4-1) faces unbeaten Ludlow away. Should be a good one!

Written by Jason Finnell in Ludlow, Brian Frey in Newport, and Michael Monks in Covington.