Top de­fense thwarts top of­fense for Class 2A ti­tle

Lexington Herald-Leader (Sunday) - - Sports - BY JOSH MOORE

When it mat­tered most, de­fense won out in a bat­tle be­tween the state’s top-ranked of­fense and de­fense in Class 2A.

With May­field look­ing to pos­si­bly tie a game with a touch­down and a two-point con­ver­sion, Chris­tian Academy of Louisville held the Car­di­nals’ po­tent of­fense to 3 yards on four downs in CAL ter­ri­tory to leave Kroger Field with a 34-26 vic­tory in the Class 2A KHSAA Com­mon­wealth Grid­iron Bowl fi­nals on Sat­ur­day.

CAL won its se­cond state cham­pi­onship in as many ap­pear­ances and first since 2016. May­field fell to 12-11 in cham­pi­onship ap­pear­ances and lost for the se­cond straight sea­son in the fi­nals.

May­field got the ball back with about 2 min­utes left af­ter forc­ing a CAL punt from the Cen­tu­ri­ons’ own 18. The Car­di­nals on their pre­vi­ous drive went 71 yards on three plays in a minute and one se­cond to pull within a pos­ses­sion. Their 26 points were the most scored this sea­son against a CAL de­fense that gave up an av­er­age of 6.4 points to op­po­nents en­ter­ing Sat­ur­day, but ul­ti­mately proved too few.

“All year long they’ve been scor­ing at will ... so yea, I’m wor­ry­ing, and the last thing I want to do is give them an op­por­tu­nity to score at the end,” CAL Coach Ste­fan LeFors said. “They had one (and) our de­fense came through big.”

May­field en­tered the fi­nals hav­ing scored 48 points per game but it was CAL that built a 14-0 lead with two first-quar­ter scor­ing runs by

Brandt Babin — one from 7 yards out and an­other from 22 yards with 56 sec­onds left in the pe­riod. The Car­di­nals didn’t get on the board un­til a 29-yard quar­ter­back keeper by Con­nor Guthrie with 9:33 to play in the se­cond quar­ter.

Wright ex­tended

CAL’s lead to 20-7 with 7:06 left in the first half on a 9-yard run. Guthrie scored again for May­field to bring the Car­di­nals within 20-13 with 7:44 to play in the third quar­ter.

Stin­son threw a 72yard TD pass to Kade Neely to pull May­field within a point, 20-19, with 1:56 left in the third quar­ter but the Car­di­nals missed a se­cond straight PAT try. Wright scored again — on a 53-yard run, evad­ing five May­field de­fend­ers along the way — to ex­tend CAL’s ad­van­tage to 27-19 only 20 sec­onds later.

CAL scored for the fi­nal time on a 17-yard pass to Luke Paul­son from An­thony Sa­batino, to go up 34-19 with 3:40 to play.

Babin, sopho­more, was named MVP of the game af­ter fin­ish­ing with 168 yards and two TDs on 22 car­ries. He also caught three passes for 42 yards.

“Babin was awe­some,” said Wright, who’s com­mit­ted to Pur­due Uni­ver­sity.

Wright was named MVP of the 2016 fi­nals as a sopho­more. The fourstar prospect fin­ished his se­nior sea­son with 1,010 re­ceiv­ing yards on only 67 re­cep­tions — an av­er­age of 15 yards per catch — and was named a fi­nal­ist for the Ken­tucky Foot­ball Coaches As­so­ci­a­tion Mr. Foot­ball award at half­time by virtue of win­ning the KFCA’s

Class 2A Player of the Year award.

“This ex­pe­ri­ence is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent be­cause we pro­mote ev­ery­one to go for the se­niors, and since I’m a se­nior, I had to kind of rally peo­ple to go for us, but I’m still work­ing for my team, so it was kind of dif­fer­ent,” Wright said. “But, man, what a love. It was awe­some.”

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