Sunday, October 5, 2014

How many consecutive points did Highlands score in the win over Harrison County?


Allen Ramsey Photo. Highlands senior linebacker Ben Ellison (44) puts pressure on Harrison County punter Jordan Kenney (3) in Friday's game in Cynthiana. Highlands won 46-13.
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

CYNTHIANA – Believe it or not, the hosts had a brief glimmer of hope on their football Homecoming game.

The hosts held a one-point lead for 25 seconds in the first quarter of the Class 4A, District 7 match-up. But the top-ranked Highlands Bluebirds, ranked number one in the class, quickly squashed those hopes with 40 straight points in the rest of the half en route to a 46-13 victory here Friday over the Harrison County Thorobreds.

Highlands played on a grass field for the first time this year. Campbell County and Lexington Bryan Station have artificial turfs like David Cecil Memorial Stadium. Grass fields are often difficult to play on when it rains near gameday. It rained off and on throughout the area Friday. It poured like crazy right after the game ended.

“You only get so many chances to play a game so we really emphasize taking advantage of every opportunity you get when you get in a game,” said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. “We were sharp on everything we were doing. Mother Nature made for some muddy conditions. But the guys didn’t use it as an excuse.”

This marked the fourth straight game the Bluebirds reached the running clock on an opponent. That happens in Kentucky when an opponent takes a lead of 36 points or more.

Undefeated Highlands (6-0) took another step toward its 18th district championship in 19 years improving to 2-0 in district action. On the other hand, Harrison County fell to 0-7 losing its first district contest.

The Bluebirds led 46-7 at halftime and let the starters rest in the second half. The reserves did move the ball some in the second half, but Harrison County recorded an interception in the end zone.

Highlands ended up outgaining Harrison County, 331-309 in total offense. But that stat was deceiving because Highlands won the field-position battle and Harrison County had a good chunk of its yardage on two 83-yard touchdown passes.

The Bluebirds recovered a fumble deep in Thorobred territory at the 13 by senior linebacker Patrick Schoepf. They also started three other drives on the Harrison County side of the field on an Austin Beal kickoff return to the five, a James Hinkel interception return to the 42 and at the 13 following a Harrison County minus-9-yard punt.

“We tried to do some extra things to see if we were good at certain things,” said Shelby Jones, Highlands Defensive Coordinator. “We had several guys who did not play, but we hope to get them back from injury and move on.”

Harrison County had three turnovers to two for Highlands. Junior linebacker Caleb Mullikin recovered a Thorobred fumble with 4:51 left in the game for the Bluebirds. Highlands also lost a fumble.

“We just have to get out there and play (hard) every day,” Mullikin said. “We didn’t play as hard as we should, but we still pulled out the win. That’s all that matters.”

The one moral victory for Harrison County is the score was closer than the 68-point average the previous three years. Highlands beat Harrison County, 68-0, 69-10 and 77-0 from 2011 through last year respectively. The Bluebirds moved to 9-0 all-time against the Thorobreds.

The Bluebirds have consistently picked apart Harrison County’s suspect secondary. The tandem of senior quarterback Beau Hoge and wide receiver Alex Veneman had big games. Hoge completed 16-of-20 passes for 273 yards and six touchdowns and Veneman had nine catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Justin Weyer added two catches for 19 yards and two scores.

“The receiver position is one of the most heavily stacked on our team,” said Matt Bowman, Highlands senior wide receiver. “We can get fresh bodies out there all the time and (opponents) can’t keep up. Nobody complains about the rotations. There’s no need to complain because the rotations are what get us all the receptions and yards.”

The two teams may not meet again for a while. Highlands moves to Class 5A, District 5 next year with Covington Catholic, Dixie Heights and Grant County while Harrison County will stay in 7-4A with Holmes, Bourbon County, Mason County and Scott.

The Bluebirds took the lead first when Hoge found Griffin Urlage in the right flat for a 20-yard touchdown pass with 7:42 left in the quarter. The missed two-point conversion pass failed leaving Highlands up 6-0.

That’s when Harrison County quarterback Mark Taylor completed his first of two long touchdown passes to junior wide receiver Jovon Williams. Austin Jackson made the extra-point kick to put the Thorobreds up 7-6 with 6:44 left in the quarter.

“I think we really didn’t have our feet under us,” Jones said. “(Williams) is a good player. They try to take their best player, put him in position to run down the field and throw the ball in the air. He ran by our guys. I don’t know if we misjudged his speed or what it was. But we’ll get better.”

But after Beal’s long kickoff return and a holding penalty, Hoge found Weyer for the 10-yard pass and Jared Daugherty made the extra-point kick to put the Bluebirds up 13-7 with 6:19 left in the quarter and Highlands never looked back.

The Bluebirds scored two more touchdowns to go up 26-7 after one quarter.

“(The Bluebirds) were ready to go from the start,” Weinrich said. “(Harrison County) has some good players. I don’t care what their record is. (Williams) could play for any team we’ve played this year. That didn’t do anything to us one way or the other. We had to come back and play the next play.”

Hoge hit Mitch Cain for a 13-yard touchdown with 4:29 remaining and Veneman for a 2-yard score with 3:19 left.

Highlands added three more touchdowns in the second quarter. Hoge hit Veneman for a 14-yard touchdown with 11:03 left in the half to put Highlands up 33-7.

After Schoepf’s fumble recovery, James Grau scored a 2-yard touchdown for the Bluebirds with 10:14 left. That put Highlands up 39-7.

The last Bluebird touchdown came with 2:45 left in the half. Hoge hit Weyer for an 11-yard touchdown.

The only score of the second half came with 4:37 left in the third. Williams broke free for the long touchdown pass for the Thorobreds. They’d scored just one touchdown against the Bluebirds in the previous three meetings.  

Highlands welcomes another Florida team to Fort Thomas on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Bluebirds face the Miami Christopher Columbus Explorers from the largest 8A class.

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