NKY Football: Holmes Gets 7th Win; Ludlow Comes Back; Regular Season Ends
The high school football regular season is now over after another week of gridiron action.
RCN contributor Jason Finnell reports from Ludlow where the Panthers came from behind to knock off Holy Cross in a nailbiter. RCN photographer Brian Frey has a slideshow from Holmes-Bellevue where the Bulldogs picked up their seventh win of the season.
See the story, the photos, and the full NKY scoreboard below.
Ludlow overcame a sluggish first half, outlasting Holy Cross, 26-25, in a regular season-ending seesaw matchup on senior night.
The Panthers began their second possession of the evening on their own 18-yard line and moved the ball downfield, keyed by quarterback Ian Vallandingham’s 54-yard run on second down before being tackled out of bounds at the Indians’ 14. Two plays later, Vallandingham found Chris Cannon wide open for the 14-yard score and 7-0 lead, capping an eight-play, 82-yard drive for the Panthers.
Holy Cross could not get much going offensively until Javier Ison found Brandon McClendon over the middle for a 50-yard touchdown, getting the Indians on the board with under five minutes to play in the second quarter. The play sparked momentum for the Indians and the young quarterback who had struggled up until hitting the junior in-stride. Holy Cross’ Jack Bayless then recovered a Vallandingham fumble and the Indians were back in business at the Ludlow 39. A short completion to Denzel Moses left the Indians with third-and-nine when the Ison-to-McClendon duo struck again; this time, a 38-yard reception to put the Indians ahead of the favored Panthers, 12-7, with 2:56 remaining in the half. On its ensuing drive, Braxton Newborn could not find room to run and was taken down for a loss of nine followed by a sack of Vallandingham compounded by an illegal block in the back penalty on the Panthers that left it with fourth-and-long inside its own 20. Despite letting 30 seconds tick away with all three timeouts left as Ludlow lined up in punt formation, the Indians were able to add to their lead after finally calling timeout with 33 seconds left. Then on first down, Ludlow’s defense left the middle of the field open where Cade Lehmkuhl put the Holy Cross within striking distance to the 15 before being brought down. With the clock running, the Indians called their second timeout. On first-and-10, Ison found Jeremiah Hicks for the score and a 19-7 advantage at halftime.
In the second half, Ludlow came out determined to regain focus with its senior trio of Vallandingham, running back Cody Kramer and receiver Cameron Underwood. “Those three have been our keys all year. They’ve been wanting this, they’ve been fighting, training since last year ended. They bring the team together when they need it and they are not afraid to get on somebody if they need it,” Panthers’ Head Coach Greg Taphouse said. Calm down and play our game. They were getting frustrated and things weren’t working and honestly, I think they wanted this game so bad their mind was getting a little weak. They were thinking things weren’t going their way and it was going to be a dogfight and I just told them to calm down. Read your keys and make your adjustments and we’ll be alright,” he said.
Calmly, the Panthers first possession out of the locker room resulted in a 17-play scoring drive which drained over six minutes off the clock, culminating in a one-yard touchdown run by Kramer after it overcame two penalties but also took advantage of a pass interference penalty on Holy Cross in the end zone on a incomplete fourth down pass from Vallandingham which would have otherwise given the Indians possession with its lead still intact. But it was the Panthers on the positive side of the scoreboard, 19-13, with 4:07 in the quarter to play. The Indians then went three-and-out and Ludlow was unable to convert on fourth down, handing the ball back to Holy Cross as the final quarter began.
On second-and-11 on its own 43, Hicks shot through the middle 57 yards for the go-ahead score. However, offsetting personal foul penalties on each team wiped the touchdown off the board and the down was replayed. Hicks gained two yards but Ison fumbled the ball away to the Panthers on third down and home team looked to capitalize. On the Indians’ side of the field, Ludlow’s Newborn and Kramer chipped way at the Holy Cross’ defense and lucked out on a Newborn run that ended in what appeared to be a fumble by the sophomore recovered by the Indians before his knee touched the turf. However, he was ruled down by contact, keeping the Panthers’ possession alive. Then, Kramer’s run up the middle placed Ludlow on the four-yard line followed by Newborn’s carry just short of the goal line. After Taphouse called timeout prior to Ludlow’s third down play, Kramer bulled his way into the end zone and the home team was back on top by one, 20-19, with 7:09 to go in the fourth quarter. Holy Cross was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play was over, resulting in Ludlow kicking off from the Holy Cross 45. McClendon received the kick near his own 10, raced down the left sideline and cut back right when he reached the Ludlow 30, and nobody could catch him. The Indians regained the lead after only 16 seconds had ticked away, 25-20. Then it self-destructed.
Ludlow was held on its next drive as Vallandingham’s pass to Underwood fell incomplete at the Indians’ 30. But another pass interference on Holy Cross followed by a sideline warning on consecutive plays gave Ludlow the break it was searching for. Vallandingham gained nine yards up the middle, Kramer gained a yard, then the Indians interfered with Brogan O’Brien in the end zone giving Ludlow the ball and a new set of downs inside the 10. Several plays later, perhaps fittingly on senior night, Vallandingham spotted senior Underwood in the back of the end zone for the game-winning score for the Panthers, 26-25.
Next week, Ludlow (7-3) faces Bellevue for the second time in three weeks to begin the 1A playoffs after winning their first meeting on October 18, 61-21. But playoff football is a different ballgame and Taphouse and the Panthers are not taking the Tigers lightly despite their earlier victory, he said. “It’s hard to beat somebody twice. It’s going to be a battle again and the second time is going to be even harder, so we have to reset and reload and that’s what we’re looking to do.”
Holy Cross (2-8) travels to Fort Mitchell next Friday when it meets Beechwood for its opening 2A playoff match-up.
Holmes continued its best season in years with a rout at Bellevue. The Bulldogs had no trouble putting away the Tigers to improve to 7-3 on the season. Riding a five-game winning streak, Holmes will host Harrison Co. in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs next Friday. Bellevue (2-8) visits Ludlow in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs.
Dixie Heights 43
Dixie Heights rolled into Taylor Mill and walloped their hosts, improving to 4-6 on the season, with a pair of back-to-back wins. The Colonels travel to Ryle in next week's Class 6A playoffs opening round. Scott, meanwhile, has lost two straight games and stands at 6-4 ahead of next week's Class 4A opening round match-up at home against Rowan Co.
Carroll Co. 42
After opening the season red-hot, winning four of the first five games, the Greendevils have seen a slide with five straight losses. Now that the postseason is here, Dayton will look for an upset next week at Newport Central Catholic in the opening round of the Class 1A playoffs.
Newport Central Catholic 17
The win-streak for New Cath now stands at six, and the 'Breds are 8-2 heading into next week's Class 1A playoffs at home against Dayton. Beechwood finishes its first regular season in Class 2A, after moving up one class, at 5-5. The Tigers face Holy Cross in Ft. Mitchell next week in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Juggernauts fall to 6-4 as the regular season concludes. Newport visits Erlanger next week in the opening round of the Class 2A playoffs.
George Rogers Clark 38
The Cougars fall to 7-3 on the season after losing their second straight game. Next week, Highlands visits Hebron for the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs.
Campbell Co. 26
Boone Co. 6
The Camels picked up their first win of the year and now stand at 1-9 before traveling to Independence next week to face Simon Kenton in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs. Boone Co.'s season ends at 2-8.
Bishop Brossart 20
Pendleton Co. 14
The Mustangs are picking up steam at the right time, winning four straight games to improve to 6-4 on the year. Next week, Brossart hosts Paris in the Class 1A playoffs opening round.
Louisville Holy Cross 41
It was a rough trip to Louisville for the Bearcats who call to 6-4 to end their season as their four-game winning streak was snapped. Walton is back home next week to host Gallatin Co. in the opening round of the Class 2A playoffs.
Simon Kenton 35
Little Miami (Oh.) 48
The Pioneers lose a shoot-out on the Ohio side of the river. Simon Kenton ends the regular season at 6-4 and hosts Campbell Co. in next week's Class 6A playoffs.