MAYFIELD, Ky. – Be it 1-A or 2-A, Mayfield proved it still belongs at the head of the class.
Despite facing a two-touchdown deficit in the second quarter on Friday night, the host Cardinals rallied to upend DeSales 24-19 at War Memorial Stadium and advance to next week’s Class 2-A championship game.
Mayfield (13-1), which will be playing in its seventh straight state final, will take on Newport Central Catholic at 1 p.m. Sunday in Bowling Green.
The Cardinals moved up from Class 1-A at the start of the 2015 season and many anticipated Friday’s semifinal matchup between Mayfield – winners of three straight state 1-A titles – and the Colts, who were the two-time defending state champions in 2-A.
And in the second-ever matchup between the schools, Mayfield managed to rattle off 24 straight points on the legs of Trajon Bright and foot of kicker Sidney Herndon, erasing a 13-0 DeSales advantage at the end of the first period.
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Bright, who finished the night with 145 yards on the ground, helped set up a 1-yard TD run by fullback Johnny Hernandez with 1:35 left in the first half to cut the Colts’ lead to 13-7 at halftime.
Mayfield used defensive adjustments to frustrate DeSales (11-3) in the second half and utilized a pair of interceptions by Nick Workman to take over complete momentum on a soggy Roy D. Williams Sr. field.
Herndon, who booted four different kickoffs into the end zone during the game, used a 38-yard line drive field goal to pull the Cardinals within 13-10 of DeSales in the third quarter.
A 9-yard TD catch from Kevin Caldwell gave Mayfield its first and final lead, 17-13 with 7:48 remaining. That’s as close as DeSales would get the rest of the way.
Despite a 38-yard run by quarterback Austin Johnson in the first half, the Colts were held to just 154 rushing yards in the contest. Gilly Simpson gave DeSales a 7-0 lead on a 12-yard run, and the Colts had Mayfield reeling when Ryan Smith returned one of three DeSales interceptions for a touchdown with 19 seconds to go in the opening period.
But Mayfield, which is now 62-11 all-time in the state playoffs under coach Joe Morris, persevered. The Colts made things interesting late when Chad Welsh broke loose for a 39-yard TD catch to make it 24-19.
DeSales went for two, trying to pull within a field goal, but fumbled it away. The Colts tried an onside kick, but the ball went straight out of bounds. Mayfield was eventually able to kneel the ball to run out the clock.