BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – A jump in classification did nothing to derail Mayfield High School’s status as a football powerhouse.
Its running game stymied, Mayfield went to the air on offense and got another stout performance from its defense to defeat Newport Central Catholic 17-7 in Sunday’s Class 2-A state championship game.
A crowd of 6,253 at Houchens Industries/L.T. Smith Stadium saw Mayfield win its fourth straight state title and 12th overall, tying St. Xavier for third-most in state history.
Mayfield had won three straight Class A titles before realignment bumped it to Class 2-A this season.
“We fought threw a lot of adversity and were down in several games, but this team won’t quit,” Cardinals coach Joe Morris said. “It was tough sledding out there today. It was tough to run the football.”
The Cardinals (14-1) managed just 61 rushing yards on 31 carries, but quarterback Landon Arnett completed 17 of 35 passes for 208 yards. Kevin Caldwell (six catches, 81 yards), Lane Kennemore (five catches, 65 yards) and Michael Walker (five catches, 48 yards) were top receivers.
Arnett’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Caldwell gave Mayfield a 7-0 lead with 12 seconds left in the first half.
“We went to the passing game,” Morris said. “That’s what you have to do. You have to be able to do both, and Landon played great and our receivers did a fantastic job of catching the football.”
The Cardinals took a 14-0 lead early in the third quarter when a Sidney Herndon punt bounced off a NewCath player and into the end zone, where Keelan Murphy recovered for a touchdown.
Patrick Henschen’s 46-yard touchdown pass to Trent Wrobleski pulled the Thoroughbreds (9-6) within 14-7 with 6:27 left in the third quarter. But NewCath couldn’t overcome a struggling running game (37 carries, 81 yards) and three turnovers.
Mayfield allowed just 9.2 points per game in five playoff contests.
“We had our chances early and didn’t take advantage of them, and in the second half we killed ourselves with turnovers,” NewCath coach Dan Wagner said. “You just can’t do that. I felt like we could stop them all night long, but you can’t turn the ball over. … It’s hard to take right now.”
Sidney Herndon’s 27-yard field goal gave Mayfield a 17-7 lead with 5:35 remaining.
After a kneel-down on the final play of the game, Arnett sprinted toward the sideline and jumped in Morris’ arms to celebrate.
Mayfield became just the fifth program in state history to win four straight state titles. Highlands won six straight from 2007-12, and Boyle County captured five in a row from 1999-2003. Trinity (2005-08) and Beechwood (1991-94) both took four straight.
“Four in a row is crazy,” Morris said.
* At halftime, the Kentucky Football Coaches Association recognized Owensboro Catholic’s Ray Zuberer as its Class 2-A Player of the Year and Danville’s Clay Clevenger as 2-A Coach of the Year.
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and firstname.lastname@example.org.