Hayden Shelton threw two touchdowns passes and Devin Gentry scored twice
Having won its first seven games by an average margin of 47.1 points, the Male High School football team finally faced the adversity its coach said it needed Friday night.
Five turnovers made it tough, but the Bulldogs passed the test.
Hayden Shelton threw two touchdowns passes and Devin Gentry scored twice as the Bulldogs slipped past host St. Xavier 27-24.
Shelton was intercepted twice and the Bulldogs lost three fumbles, but they were able to improve to 8-0 and back up their No. 1 state ranking in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings.
“You couldn’t write a worse game than what we had tonight, and we still won the game,” Male coach Chris Wolfe said. “That tells me more than any of the blowout wins. I’m proud of the team. … We took every punch they had and responded.”
GALLERY | Male 27, St. X 24
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Shelton completed 17 of 33 passes for 270 yards. Gentry carried 35 times for 114 yards and a touchdown and also had three receptions for 97 yards and a score.
Sam Taylor rushed for 49 yards on 13 attempts to lead No. 5 St. X (5-3), which was limited to nine first downs and 142 total yards. The Tigers also committed three turnovers but were in the game late after falling behind 20-0 in the first half.
“I’m very proud of the way the kids fought,” Tigers coach Will Wolford said. “For a while there it looked pretty bleak, but they hung in there and battled the No. 1 team in the state to a field goal.”
Shelton’s 82-yard touchdown pass to Gentry gave Male a 20-0 lead with 4:38 to go in the first half, and it appeared the Bulldogs might cruise to victory.
But after Male fumbled a punt, St. X took advantage of a short field and got a 24-yard touchdown pass from Desmond Ridder to Colin O’Daniel to make it 20-7 with 1:45 left in the half.
Male drove to the St. X 12-yard line with 6 seconds left in the half and attempted to score a touchdown. But the Tigers’ Ian Kania intercepted a Shelton pass and returned it 98 yards for a score to make it 20-14 on the final play of the first half.
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“At halftime I said, ‘This is what we want. This is adversity,’” Wolfe said. “If you’re a competitor you want to face some adversity. How are you going to respond?”
Sam McDonogh’s 26-yard field goal pulled St. X within 20-17 with 8:10 left in the third quarter, but Male answered later in the period.
On fourth-and-6 at the St. X 24-yard line, Shelton found Zackery Smith, who broke a tackle at the 10 and scored to give the Bulldogs a 27-17 lead with 1:09 left in the third.
Jack Krunk’s 17-yard fumble return for a touchdown brought the Tigers within 27-24 with 11:01 left in the game, but the Bulldogs were able to run much of the remaining clock behind Gentry.
St. X had two final possessions in the fourth quarter but managed just one first down.
“We have to get better,” Wolford said. “We’re a good football team, and we’re capable of being great. We’re not a great football team yet. Male’s a great football team.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and email@example.com.
MALE 27, ST. XAVIER 24
M – Nathan Hobbs 15 interception return (Erik Sorensson kick); M – Devin Gentry 2 run (Sorensson kick); M – Gentry 82 pass from Hayden Shelton (kick failed); SX – Colin O’Daniel 24 pass from Desmond Ridder (Sam McDonogh kick); SX – Ian Kania 98 interception return (McDonogh kick); SX – McDonogh 26 FG; M – Zackery Smith 24 pass from Shelton (Sorensson kick); SX – Jack Krunk 17 fumble return (McDonogh kick).