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PREP FOOTBALL: Holy Cross tops Knox in shortened game (09/01)

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By Josh Claywell

LOUISVILLE — Electricity wasn’t the only thing to go out Friday night at Louisville Holy Cross.

In a bizarre scene, a transformer on Dixie Highway blew and electricity was in the process of being restored when game officials, Holy Cross coach Todd Crumbacker and Fort Knox coach Brandon Combs agreed to end the game with the Cougars leading 23-0 at halftime.

Following the outage, the Eagles couldn’t get things turned back on. They were held to 32 offensive yards, punted twice, fumbled once and allowed a safety. Power hadn’t been restored when the game was called around 9:15.

“It was a very bizarre game,” said Fort Knox junior running back D’Andre Mitchell. “I felt like we could’ve come back on them. We were running hard and we were ready to go back out there and try to get back in it. It’s unfortunate the lights went out. I was ready for us to make a comeback.”

Fort Knox (0-2) never got that chance as officials, Combs and Crumbacker decided to end the game before the third quarter started.

Combs said he was given two options: resume the game Saturday or end it. With several players going out of town for the Labor Day holiday and a few others injured, he agreed to end the game.

“We didn’t have a choice in the matter,” Combs said. “I wasn’t going to try and play a bunch of freshmen who aren’t ready to play varsity and get someone hurt. I’m not going to do that.”

Seniors Adam Kiphuth (strep throat), Troy Kiphuth (vision issues) and J.D. Draper (neck stinger) left the game in the first quarter.

Already short on numbers, that made things a little more stressful for Combs and his coaching staff.

“It was a winnable game; we just didn’t come out firing on all cylinders,” Combs said. “And then we had some kids go down. We’re just hoping the guys who got hurt can recover quickly and they’ll be alright for next week. If they don’t, then they’ve got two weeks to heal up before district starts.”

The power outage wasn’t enough to slow down the Cougars (1-1), who were looking to rebound from a 45-0 loss to Louisville DeSales.

Holy Cross seized control two plays in on a 60-yard scoring run by sophomore running back Evan Perry, who took a pitch left, made a Fort Knox defender miss and scampered untouched into the end zone.

Combs expected the Cougars to have success against his team, but not like that.

“It’s pretty frustrating because we’re not playing to our abilities,” he said. “But we’re going to figure it out. The guys are still green and we’re still figuring things out on defense, but we’ve got to be patient with them and keep doing what we’ve been doing in practice. We’ll eventually get there; I just hope it’s sooner than later.”

Perry’s 2-yard run with 11:54 left in the second quarter made it 14-0. Just over 3 minutes later, with Fort Knox pinned at its own 8-yard line, the Cougars tacked on a safety when they tackled junior running back A.J. Turner in the end zone.

Fort Knox stopped Holy Cross on fourth down following the safety, and the Eagles looked to get on the board. They got to midfield before a bad snap resulted in a turnover, and the Cougars stretched their lead to 23-0 two plays later on a 3-yard run by junior running back Ryan Kaelin.

“We have to work on getting to the ball and working more as a team,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got to play hard and work our butts off. I didn’t expect us to start like this. I thought we’d be more competitive than we’ve been.

“We had two more quarters left and we could’ve scored,” he added. “We could’ve finished hard. It’s just an unfortunate thing that happened.”

Not to mention frustrating.

The teams came back out after halftime, hoping the game would resume. After about an hour delay, officials conferred with both coaches when it was apparent power wouldn’t be restored in a timely manner.

But even without the stoppage, Combs said his team simply wasn’t ready to go against the Cougars.

“It was really difficult because you want to play and do the best we can,” he said. “We’ve got distractions like that and on top of that, it was a hot day. And on top of that, we had to travel. You’ve got curveballs thrown at you. Maybe that contributed to it, but I don’t know. I just know that we weren’t ready to play tonight.

“This isn’t the start I wanted to see,” Combs added. “I knew we were going to be slow out of the gate, just not this slow. But it’s part of the game. We just need to keep on working, and we’ve got plenty to work on.”

UP NEXT: Fort Knox plays at Fort Campbell at 8 p.m. Friday in the Army Bowl.

Josh Claywell can be reached at 270-505-1752 or jclaywell@thenewsenterprise.com.