Sophomore running back Stevon Beason ran for an 11-yard touchdown with 8:58 left in the game to lift the host Central Yellowjackets to an 18-13 win over Monroe County in the semifinal round of the Class 3-A high school football playoffs Friday night.
Central (12-2) advances to the Class 3-A championship game and will play Belfry (12-2), which beat Bourbon County 35-10, at 4 p.m. Friday at Western Kentucky University.
“This is the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Central coach Ty Scroggins said. “They do the things teams are supposed to do.”
One thing this team did well was take advantage of Monroe County’s poor punting. The Falcons averaged just 21 yards in four attempts.
It was such a punt that Central’s Marcus Manion caught on a bounce and rambled 22 yards to the Falcons’ 13. Two plays later, Beason scored to make the final margin — the Yellowjackets’ first lead of the game. Beason went on to finish with 138 yards on 23 carries.
“He’s always been a good running back,” Scroggins said. “He did some great things for us.”
Both teams had effective rushing attacks in the first half, but it was two fourth-down stops by the Monroe County defense that proved the difference at the break.
On the first possession of the game, Central leaned heavily on Beason and Darren Powell to gash the Monroe County defensive line. But the Falcons’ defense stiffened at their own 24-yard line, stopping the Yellowjackets on fourth down.
Monroe County (12-2) immediately got down to business on the ground to set up a little-used, but effective, passing game.
A 23-yard run by Jacob Hodges put the ball into Central territory. Quarterback Chad Wilson then connected with Tanner Strode for 12 yards to the Central 36.
A roughing the passer penalty on the Yellowjackets helped Monroe County into the red zone. Two plays later, Wilson hit Mason Kilmon with a 14-yard touchdown pass at the 5:37 mark of the first quarter.
Central responded with a drive of its own, and this time the Monroe County defense didn’t make that key stop.
A 16-yard run by Beason highlighted the drive, taking the ball to the Monroe County 31. Five plays later, quarterback Sydney Telford punched it in from a yard out and the score was 7-6 with 1:01 left in the first quarter. The 11-play drive had covered 62 yards, all on the ground.
Down one, Central stepped up with a solid defensive effort, forcing the Falcons to punt and give the Yellowjackets possession near midfield.
But once again, the Monroe County defense was able to stand up, allowing just nine yards on four downs and giving possession back to the offense.
From midfield, the Falcons fed Central a steady diet of Hodges and Wilson on the ground. Those two combined for 10 rushing plays, capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Wilson with 5:01 left in the half. The extra-point kick was blocked and it was 13-6 at the break.
Central started the third quarter with a defensive stop and took over at midfield.
From there, it took the Yellowjackets seven plays to score. A 23-yard pass from Tedford to Devonte Yelder took it to the 2-yard line, and from there Tedford punched it in.
A second blocked extra point left Central down one, 13-12, with 5:45 left in the third quarter, and that was the score going into the fourth.
Following Beason’s go-ahead touchdown run, Monroe County was able to drive to the Central 38 before the drive stalled. Central took over with 4:04 left and was able to run out the clock — thanks in large part to a 30-yard pass from Tedford to Yelder on third-and-10.