|Allen Ramsey Photo. Highlands quarterback Beau Hoge takes the snap while Josh Watson (28) and Chandler New (14) head downfield in Friday's game against Cincinnati Elder.|
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
Things have not been kind to the Highlands Bluebirds this year against non-Kentucky competition.
Highlands (7-2 overall) dropped to 0-2 against another out-of-state team with a 49-35 loss to the Cincinnati Elder Panthers (6-3). The other loss came at home against the Christopher Columbus Explorers two weeks ago.
“I don’t have an answer to why we’ve had two slow starts in these games,” said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. “I think in the bigger picture, (the comeback) shows a lot about their character as far as how they never gave up the entire time. They care about each other when going through adversity and do what they can to make it right for each other.”
The Panthers used their talented offensive line and junior quarterback Peyton Ramsey’s solid decision-making to beat the Bluebirds for the third straight season. Ramsey rode his offensive line led by Notre Dame commit Tommy Kraemer. Ramsey had 22 carries for 191 yards and completed 15-of-20 passes for 191. Elder also had 26 first downs to 12 for Highlands.
The Panthers outgained the Bluebirds, 498-373 in total offense. That included 307-112 on the ground. Garren Messmore added 99 yards on 27 carries for Elder.
Ramsey completed passes to three different receivers. Senior Louis Fallace recorded nine catches for 101 yards in the Elder win.
Elder led 35-7 at halftime following a half of no penalties. That was seven points more than what Highlands trailed two weeks ago against Christopher Columbus.
Highlands senior quarterback Beau Hoge led another valiant comeback attempt. He completed 23-of-37 passes for 261 yards to go with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Hoge also led Highlands with seven carries for 60 yards and a touchdown.
Bluebird senior wide receiver Alex Veneman had another stellar game. He recorded 10 catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns.
Elder scored twice in the first quarter. Messmore and Ramsey had 3-yard touchdown runs.
But the Bluebirds answered on a long drive. Hoge completed long passes to Veneman and Mitch Cain before he took it a yard for the score. Highlnads trailed 14-7 at halftime.
The Panthers pulled away in the second quarter. Messmore had a 1-yard run before Ramsey scored on 19 and 48-yard runs.
But the second touchdown did not come without controversy. The Panthers fumbled the ball in their territory and the officials initially signaled Highlands ball. But after a few minutes of indecisiveness, they gave it back to the Panthers.
Highlands cut into the margin quickly after halftime. Urlage had a 10-yard touchdown run following an Elder penalty. The Bluebirds then recovered an onside kick and Hoge scrambled an hit Veneman for a 2-yard score. Highlands trailed 42-21 entering the fourth quarter.
Hoge hit Veneman again on a 51-yard go route to trim the margin to 42-28 before Elder answered on a Ramsey 1-yard run. Hoge broke free less than a minute later on a 62-yard scamper to make the final score.
Highlands travels to Warren Central (6-3) to conclude the regular season Friday. Game time is 8 p.m. EST.