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KHSAA Class 5-A State Quarterfinals: Fern Creek rallies to beat South Oldham 21-20 in regional final

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Dragons' season ends at 10-3

By Elliott Pratt

CRESTWOOD — For the second time in as many weeks, South Oldham had an opportunity to score in the final moments of the game after giving up the lead.

It worked last week, but the Dragons’ last minute efforts weren’t enough in a tightly contested match to swoon Lady Luck once again.

Lamarius Kinslow caught two second half touchdowns as Fern Creek edged South Oldham 21-20 to move on to the KHSAA Class 5-A state semifinals next week at Bowling Green.

South Oldham (10-3) held a 17-7 lead late in the third quarter when the Tigers shifted their game plan to the air for Kinslow.

The Western Kentucky commit caught a 50-yard touchdown pass late in the third and 10-yard touchdown grab on a fade to the right corner over senior Starr Thompson with 3:22 left to play for the 21-20 lead.

Once Fern Creek took the lead, South got the ball back at its own five-yard line after watching the ball roll deep in their own territory on the kickoff.

Sophomore quarterback Drew Zaubi connected with Thompson on a 36-yard strike, but the Dragons were forced to punt with 1:34 left to play.

Starting a potential game winning drive deep backed up near its own goal line was a momentum killer for the Dragons.

“That was huge,” Thompson said. “With the amount of time left on the clock, you want to get the ball in the best field position possible. We ended up getting the worst possible so it was a big momentum shifter.

“I really thought we got the ball rolling like we did last time and would put something together magical again. The chips just didn’t fall like that.”

The Dragons had one last-ditch effort with 22 seconds left at a pass down field, but Zaubi was intercepted by Kyree Hawkins to end the game and the Dragons’ season.

“Congratulations to Fern Creek,” South Oldham coach Jamie Reed said. “Obviously, they did a good job. I think, ultimately, we ran out of horses. We battled through a lot of injuries, we just came up a little short.”

The Dragons offense was the first to score more than 20 or more points on the top defense in 5-A since the Tigers’ loss to DuPont Manual in August.

Thompson returned to the field for the first time since sustaining a concussion against Shelby County on Oct. 30 and added a boost to an offense decimated by injury.

However, freshman Payden George left the game in the second quarter with a concussion after carrying the ball three times for 19 yards.

Senior Shane Wilson led South with 82 yards on 20 carries and Thompson added 31 yards to compliment 96 receiving yards and a touchdown.

“It was definitely frustrating because it seems every time we’re riding high and we’d get in position to do something great, we’d get a big injury in a key position,” Thompson said.

Sophomore Drew Zaubi showed off his wheels in the first quarter with a 38-yard touchdown run but the Dragons offense still lacked that depth in the run game that carried them through the season.

Along with George, sophomore Brandon Elsbury was out for the game with an injury sustained last week against Fairdale.

“I think Payden George was on his way to a monster game,” Reed said. “Of course, he goes out with an injury and now we’re back to not being as deep.

“I thought our offense played well enough to win the game…Obviously, we gave them a run for their money even on a short wheel.”

Thompson’s team-high 130 all-purpose yards helped South jump to a 17-7 lead when Zaubi found Thompson down the left sideline for a 30-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. After Kinslow’s first touchdown catch to trim the South lead at 17-14, senior kicker Drew Koch drilled a 42-yard field goal through the uprights to make the lead 20-14.

Koch, one of 15 seniors for South, was perfect on the night kicking as his first field goal went for 35-yards as the clock expired for a 10-7 South lead at halftime.

South knew going into the game that Fern Creek (12-1) would rely heavily on its run game led by Jamison White.

The Tigers made quick work on that effort on the third play of the game on a 62-yard break away touchdown run from White, who went on to net 215 rushing yards.

Fern Creek totaled 284 total yards on the ground and quarterback Shamar Bryant completed 3-of-6 passes, all to Kinslow for 74 yards.

“I’m really proud of the way we played,’ senior safety Jax Mays said. “Everyone did their job and believed. It just didn’t work out the way we wanted it to. That’s one of the larger teams we had played all year. They’re a good bunch and (Kinslow) is an athlete playing at the next level. Props to him for making the big plays.”

Zaubi finished the night completing 10-of-23 passes for 131 yards and was sacked twice.

After getting four sacks on Fairdale last week, the Dragons couldn’t get to the quarterback Friday night. Senior David Hayden led with nine tackles and Graham Ashkettle had six.

The 2015 Dragons go down as the first team since the 1992 state semifinal squad to reach 10 wins in a season. 

“Nobody gave us a chance (in preseason) and we came out and won 10 games and were runner-up in the region,” Mays said. “I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”

 

Fern Creek     7  0  7  7 — 21
South Odlham    7  3  7  3 — 20

 

First quarter
FC - 9:58 - White 62 run (Flener kick)
SO - 3:34 - Zaubi 38 run (Koch kick)

Second quarter
SO - 0:00 - Koch 35 kick

Third quarter
SO - 6:00 - Zaubi 30 pass to Thompson (Koch kick)
FC - 0:18 - Bryant 50 pass to Kinslow (Flener kick)

Fourth quarter
SO - 7:37 - Koch 42 kick
FC - 3:22 - Bryant 10 pass to Kinslow (Koch kick)