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FOOTBALL FRIDAY UPDATE: Pleasure Ridge Park 48, Central Hardin 18 (11/10)

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By John Groth

LOUISVILLE — Special teams sprung Central Hardin to a victory in the first round of the Class 6-A playoffs last week.

They led to the Bruins’ downfall in the second round Friday night.

Pleasure Ridge Park scored two touchdowns off special teams and the Panthers piled up 429 total yards en route to a 48-18 victory over Central Hardin.

Pleasure Ridge Park junior Jacob Clair returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown with 4:13 in the first quarter for the game’s first score and senior Taywan Taylor opened the third quarter with an 88-yard kickoff return to give the Panthers a 34-10 advantage. It marked Taylor’s third kickoff return for a touchdown this season and his second in the last two weeks. He returned the opening kick 76 yards for a touchdown against Boone County last week.

It looked like Central Hardin would strike first, as sophomore quarterback Koree Krupinski led the Bruins from their own 30-yard line to the Pleasure Ridge Park 5 on the opening drive. But on third-and-goal, Krupinski was flushed out of the pocket, rolled to his right and was intercepted in the end zone by Clair, who returned the ball to the Panthers’ 30-yard line.

After punts by both teams, Clair scored. He added a 22-yard touchdown catch on PRP’s next possession and senior fullback Alex Hibbs had a 2-yard rushing TD to give the Panthers a 21-0 lead with 6:32 left in the first half.

Central Hardin answered on the ensuing possession, needing seven plays to drive 53 yards with Krupinski hitting sophomore running back Christian Sylvester for an 8-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 21-7. The Bruins recovered an onside kick and senior Will Jarchow added a 33-yard field goal with 1:08 before halftime.

But PRP had one more momentum shift. In just 33 seconds, the Panthers drove 70 yards in six plays – with senior quarterback Spencer Sumpter hitting junior wide receiver Joseph Lewis with a 10-yard touchdown. Senior Nick West’s extra-point gave them a 28-10 advantage with 30.8 seconds left.

Sumter finished 14-of-21 passing for 202 yards.

Still, the Bruins gave up too many big-yardage plays. The Panthers totaled 17 plays of 15-plus yards, including eight that went at least 28 yards and three others that went for 30 yards or more.

Krupinski, who had 82 yards on 19 carries, finished 15-of-28 for 216 yards and two touchdowns – the other a 57-yarder to sophomore Zach Helton late in the third quarter.

Central Hardin (5-7) finished with its first losing season since 2008. PRP (12-0) advances to the quarterfinals, where it will host Louisville Butler. The Bears defeated Meade County, 24-21 on Friday night.

John Grothcan be reached at (270) 505-1754 or jgroth@thenewsenterprise.com.