Garrard County drops thrilling contest to Rockcastle County

Published 12:16 am Saturday, October 28, 2017


LANCASTER – Garrard County is headed toward the playoffs on a heartbreaking loss.

The Golden Lions fell to Rockcastle County 28-20 on the final play their regular-season finale Friday night at Dyehouse Stadium when Brent Lovell threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Tomlinson as time expired.

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Tomlinson made a diving catch in the end zone to give Rockcastle (7-3) the victory in a thrilling game in which the lead changed hands three times in the second half and the ball was turned over three times in the final five minutes.

“We came out a little flat in the second half and they bullied us around, and then we got ourselves back into it,” Garrard coach Jerry Perry said.

Garrard (3-7), which has lost its last five games, committed two of those late turnovers – its only two giveaways of the game – after the Lions put themselves in position to win thanks largely to its best passing game of the season.

Quarterback Connor Isaacs had season highs in attempts, completions and passing yardage, connecting on 14 of 26 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns after going 18 for 40 in the Lions’ previous nine games.

All three touchdowns were thrown to Anthony Justus, who had seven catches for 125 yards after entering the game with six receptions and one touchdown catch. Justus sat out three games – including the previous two – and missed parts of two or three others with a shoulder sprain.

“Connor did a good job throwing the ball, and we knew we could throw the ball. We’ve been practicing it, but you’ve got to have all your pieces to do stuff,” Perry said.

The two connected on scoring plays of 29, 21 and 7 yards, the last coming with 8:22 remaining to give Garrard a 28-20 lead.

Rockcastle tied the game three plays later on a 43-yard run by Josh Thacker, then forced an interception with 4:57 to play when the Lions went for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 21-yard line.

The Lions survived that turnover, backing the Rockets from the 11 to the 19 before Trace Poynter intercepted a fourth-down pass at the 3-yard line. They would not survive the next, however, as a fumble at the end of a 32-yard pass play gave Rockcastle the ball at the Garrard 46 with 1:11 on the clock as a light snow shower made an already chilly evening a little colder.

Poynter appeared to have another interception near the 5-yard line with nine seconds left, but the officials huddled and the call was changed to an incomplete pass. It was second overturned call that went against Garrard in the second half, following a change from good to no good on a two-point conversion attempt in the third quarter.

“We’ve had eight calls in three games that have been overturned against us,” Perry said. “Every time they huddle, we lose.”

Two plays after the interception was overturned, Lovell found Tomlinson on the left side of the end zone for the winning score.

Josh Warren ran for 64 yards and a touchdown for Garrard, which got only 65 of its 252 yards on the ground. Rockcastle ran for 317 yards, led by Jaden Payne with 129 yards on 20 carries, and had 344 in all.

Garrard will play at Fleming County (8-2) next Friday in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.