By Dan Wright
ERLANGER, Ky. – After over 1,100 yards of offense had been gained and nearly 100 points had been scored in the first 59 minutes of Friday night’s Class 6A first round playoff game between Dixie Heights and Henry Clay, it seemed as if crowd had seen just about everything.
Then the Blue Devils unleashed something entirely new, a trick play that resulted a 29-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Sammy Carter to junior receiver Austin Black for the game-winning score with 37.1 seconds remaining in Henry Clay’s 57-50 win at Dixie Heights.
“Just sitting over there talking, coach said we’re going to have to do something special. That’s a trick play,” said Black. “We don’t really do trick plays. That’s the first trick play we’ve done all year. He just said let’s do it. We have to take a chance.”
On the play, Carter lined up at receiver while junior running back Davion Jackson took a shotgun snap. Carter ran an arc behind Jackson, and after Jackson flipped Carter the ball, he hit a wide open Black for his fifth touchdown pass of the game.
It was the second straight week Black had caught a game-winning touchdown pass for Henry Clay, with this one sending the Blue Devils to play at Scott County next week.
“We were looking for a certain situation,” said Henry Clay head coach Sam Simpson. “I’ll tell you what, the corner almost bugabooed us on that play. Normally they’ve been playing man on film and he’s been running, but he stayed back there but what happened was Austin got behind him and he got lost and Sammy threw a good ball. Hate to use that right now, but we had to if we wanted to advance.”
The Blue Devils had to resort to such measures because the Colonels rallied from a 42-21 deficit early in the third quarter to take a 50-49 lead with 2:12 remaining when Darion Washington ran in a two-point conversion following an 18-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Drew Moore to senior receiver Casey Cox on fourth-and-goal.
“We told the kids we’ve got to stop Elijah Bell because that kid was running all over us,” said Dixie Heights head coach Dave Brossart. “We made them punt the ball a couple times and they got out of sync. Then we started moving the football and then we tied it up and finally took the lead. We did some great things from probably six minutes to go in the third quarter to the last flea-flicker play. We had them on edge, but they had great athletes and their athletes made some great plays tonight and we just couldn’t stop them.”
Bell, a junior who entered the game with 1,711 rushing yards on the season, scored on a 65-yard run in the first quarter and an 80-yard kick return in the second quarter, later breaking a 42-42 tie with an 83-yard score on a screen pass with 6:10 remaining in the game.
With 273 total yards, including 109 rushing yards on 12 carries, Bell was just one of a number of players to put up eye-popping totals.
Carter completed 16 of 21 passes for 394 yards and matched his regular-season total with five touchdown passes. Sophomore Colby Barnes finished with eight catches for 169 yards, with touchdown grabs of 62, 44, 14 yards.
”We’re a young team. We’re learning how to distribute the ball and do some different things with it,” said Simpson. “Colby Barnes, he stepped up big tonight. Our quarterback, Sammy, did a good job.”
Drew Moore accounted for 500 yards of offense for Dixie Heights, completing 16 of 37 passes for 294 yards and two scores and rushing 16 times for 206 yards and consecutive touchdowns that pulled Dixie Heights even with Henry Clay at 42-42 with 10:55 remaining in the game.
“We focused on him running the football and we worked on some scrambling skills this week and he did great. He made play after play,” said Brossart, later adding, “kids are believing in Drew Moore. He’s only a sophomore and I think he’s grown up so much I think he’s going to be someone to worry about the next few years.”
Senior receiver Casey Cox had seven catches for 137 yards and both touchdown receptions while junior running back Darion Washington added 28 carries for 173 yards.
Sophomore Ben Owens scored three first-half touchdowns on seven carries.
In total, Dixie Heights piled up 680 yards of offense on 89 plays while Henry Clay had 552 yards on 44 plays.
The teams were flagged for 246 yards in penalties, with the Colonels committing 20 for 141 yards vs. 10 for 105 yards for the Blue Devils.
The Colonels were able to mount one last drive after Henry County’s final touchdown, but four straight passes from the Henry County 27 fell incomplete, the last coming as time expired.
“We were down 21 points to a terrific team that’s loaded with athletes and our defense played so much better the second half and our kids offensively made plays,” said Brossart. “They just fought hard. They played their butts off all night long.”
HENRY CLAY 14-21-7-15—57
at D. HEIGHTS 7-14-13-16—50
DH-Owens 1 run (Schulte kick)
HC-Barnes 62 pass from Carter (Dunbar kick)
HC-Bell 65 run (Dunbar kick)