Despite home-field advantage and giving their all, Henry County fell to Corbin, 24-10, in the first round of the Kentucky High School Class 3A playoffs.
The Wildcats started strong and held a 10-3 advantage at halftime but could not keep the offense moving in the second half as Corbin rallied for the right to advance to the second round to play district rival Wayne County.
The Wildcats got on the scoreboard first on a 25-yard field goal by Jacob Buckley with 5:44 to go in the first period. The Cats stopped Corbin cold on their first series and then drove from the Corbin 49-yard line to the 10-yard line before the drive stalled out.
Mason Fish had strong runs of 18 and 13 yards during the drive. After Fish’s 18-yard run, the Cats were called for a 15-yard penalty. After his 13-yard run the Cats were called for an illegal procedure penalty that made it 1st and 15. The two penalties hurt the Cats’ chances of getting to the end zone and forced them to settle for Buckley’s field goal.
On the ensuing kickoff, Buckley kicked it deep and the coverage was strong as the Cats pinned Corbin at their own 15-yard line.
Corbin managed a couple of first downs before the drive stalled out, and the Cats got a big break when the punter fumbled the snap and had to fall on the ball at the Cats’ 20-yard line.
The Cats got five yards on first down on an Austin Hartsell run. Fish then picked up five yards on two inside runs to get the first down at the 10-yard line.
Fish then fought his way for seven tough yards to make it second and goal from the three-yard line. Fish injured his ribs on the play and was out for the rest of the game.
The first quarter ended after Hartsell ran twice to get to the one-yard line and leave the Cats at fourth and goal.
Another illegal procedure penalty coming after the break made it fourth and 6, and the Cats called timeout to set up the play as they decided to go for it instead of settling for the field goal.
Corbin anticipated the play and Hartsell was tackled for a 4-yard loss to end the threat.
Corbin then drove quickly downfield with several long runs to reach the Henry County 8-yard line. Henry County called its second timeout of the half to stop the Redhounds’ momentum and the ploy was successful. The next three plays netted no gain, and Corbin settled for a 23-yard field goal to tie the score at 3-3.
The Cats’ final possession of the half started from Henry’s 43-yard line with a five-yard keeper by quarterback Brennen Peniston. The Cats steadily moved the ball downfield, but a holding penalty negated a third-and-4, nine-yard run by Ethan Tuggle to make it third and 13. Cameron Johnson was caught for a one-yard loss to make it fourth and 14 and the Cats punted, hoping to pin the Redhounds deep in their own territory.
The Cats caught a huge break as Corbin was caught with 12 men on the field at the time of the punt, leading to a 15-yard penalty and a first down for the Cats from the Redhounds’ 35-yard line.
After short gains by Tuggle and Hartsell, Bodie Clark ripped off an 11-yard run to make it first and 10 from the 20-yard line with 20 seconds left in the half.
Clark then found a big hole in the middle of the Corbin line and took the ball in for the touchdown. Buckley’s extra point gave the Cats a seven-point lead going into halftime.
But after the half, it was all Redhounds.
The Cats couldn’t move the chains on their first possession and Corbin took over on their own 42-yard line. They moved down field to score with 4:37 left in the third period. The extra point tied the game at 10-10.
On the Cats’ next possession they fumbled the ball away on second down on their own 44, giving the Redhounds good field position.
On the next play, the Redhounds ran 24 yards. After three plays netted nine yards, the Redhounds went for it on 4th and 1 from the 11-yard line. A two-yard run made it first and goal and the Redhounds punched in the go-ahead touchdown from five yards out with two seconds left in the quarter.
Corbin added another touchdown on a short run with 6:34 to go before the Cats made one last attempt to turn the game around.
Tuggle returned the ensuing kickoff to the Cats’ 40-yard line. Peniston completed a 17-yard pass to Gavin Black and a Redhound roughing the passer penalty moved the ball to the Corbin 28-yard line.
Peniston was sacked on the next play to make it second and 18. Corbin stopped Hartsell on the next play but was flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, moving the ball to the 23-yard line.
Peniston lofted the ball into the end zone for Johnson, but Corbin picked off the pass, ending the threat and the Cats’ hope of advancing to the second round.
The Cats end the season with a 6-5 record while Corbin improves to 9-2.
“It’s like getting punched in the face,” coach Jason Spencer said. “The kids came out and gave their all and played a great first half. But an injury here and an injury there throughout the second half and Corbin made plays.
“The thing that I can say is that these kids came out and gave it their all.
“I really love my kids. I do more than anything. We had every single kid give it their all on both sides of the ball. That’s all I can ever ask of them. Even though they lost I can say that I am proud of the heart that they showed out here on this field tonight.”