|FC plays better in opener, but still falls to Louisville Male|
By Alan Stewart
Special CorrespondentLouisville Male, which went 15-0 en route to the Class 6A state championship in Kentucky last season, picked up right where it left off Friday at Scott Field with a 34-10 victory over Floyd Central in the lid-lifter for both teams.
Junior running back Dayveon Higgs had 21 carries for 87 yards and three touchdowns as the Bulldogs, whose last regular-season loss came late in 2013, won their 22nd consecutive regular season victory, 16th straight overall and fifth straight season-opener.
“They were 15-0 last year for a reason,” Floyd Central head coach Brian Glesing said. “I thought we controlled the ball a little bit better than we have in the past and kept their offense off the field. We had three first downs last year and zero the year before. Tonight we had 15, so that makes a difference.”
“They just made more plays than us.”
The Highlanders, whose last season-opening win came against Male to start the 2011 season, had the game knotted at 7-all late in the first quarter but gave up two unanswered touchdowns to Male and never made up the difference.
Male drove 67 yards in eight plays, with Higgs accounting for six carries and 40 yards, to draw first blood on a Higgs one-yard dive with 8:30 left in the first. Erik Sorensson booted the first of four PATs for a 7-0 lead.
Floyd Central delivered a three-headed rushing attack on the night, with juniors Jason Cundiff and Devon Stikes getting a buck of the carries early. A 36-yard romp by Cundiff set up four straight carries and a trip to paydirt for Stikes with 3:44 left in the first quarter. Cole Hussung kicked the PAT, knotting the affair at 7-7.
A pair of Highlander penalties worth 20 yards and a 19-yard run by Male’s Aaron Dean-Thomas put the Bulldogs deep into opposing territory. Senior quarterback Tony Thomas Jr. threw a perfect corner fade to Rasean McCauley with 21 ticks left to set the first quarter score at 14-7.
After a three-and-out by the Highlanders, Higgs struck again, this time from six yards away for a 21-7 lead with 8:45 left in the first half.
The Highlanders had five plays inside the red zone on their next possession, but had to settle for a Hussung field goal just before the half, 21-10.
The lone score in the third period came on a 12-yard romp by Higgs with 8:11 left in the third to extend Male’s advantage to 28-10, and the final dagger came five plays into the final quarter with back-to-back bombs from Thomas Jr. to Brian Smith, highlighted by a 57-yard TD strike for the game’s final score.
In its final possession, Floyd Central rode the shoulders of senior back Colt May, who had 10 carries for 50 yards. The Highlanders’ drive stalled at the 3-yard line, but Glesing said he was proud of the effort of his backs.
“This was a good test for us,” Glesing said. “I’m very optimistic about the season.”
Thomas Jr. was 10-14 for 175 yards passing, and the Bulldogs rushed for 126 yards and had 14 first downs. Hampering the effort were nine penalties for 100 yards.
The home team rushed for 212 yards (Cundiff had 77, May had 66 and Stikes had 53), with quarterback Matthew Weimer going 2-6 for eight yards passing. The Highlanders played a fairly clean game with five penalties worth 41.5 yards.
Floyd Central travels to Providence next Friday in an early-season rivalry game. The Highlanders have won seven of the previous eight meetings against the Pioneers, who fell to New Albany this past Friday, 27-14.
MALE 14 7 7 6—34