It helps to have the best player on the field, and the Male High School football team took full advantage of him Friday night.
Senior wide receiver Izayah Cummings caught six passes for 146 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns as the host Bulldogs beat Trinity 20-17 in double overtime in a game befitting the two best teams in Kentucky.
“I kept telling (quarterback Elijah Parish), ‘Hey, this is our moment. If I’m not there, give it to someone else. But if I’m there and you see that I can make the play, give it to me. I’m going to make a play for you,’” said Cummings, a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder who has committed to the University of Kentucky.
Male — ranked No. 2 in Kentucky’s Class 6A — improved to 4-0 and beat Trinity for the third straight meeting. No. 1 Trinity dropped to 4-1.
Male coach Chris Wolfe said he didn’t play the “disrespect card” with his team but did express dismay about his team’s No. 2 state ranking behind Trinity.
“If they’d won state last year and they were 3-0, they would have been favored,” Wolfe said. “We won state last year and we were 3-0, and we weren’t. But it’s not anything I talked about. I totally get that (Trinity) is the established, long-term. Until you beat them, I guess people think you’re in second place. And that’s fine. That’s why we play the games.”
The first four quarters were a defensive slugfest.
Joe Kuerzi’s 2-yard touchdown run gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead at the 10:50 mark of the second quarter. Nathan McElroy’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Kaelan Racculia tied it at 7 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Male had a chance to win in regulation, but Micah Lackey’s 32-yard field-goal try missed with 5.1 seconds left.
The teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime, and Trinity settled for a 17-14 lead on Sebastian Mata’s 34-yard field goal to open the second overtime.
Two plays earlier, Armon Tucker (32 carries, 116 yards) had carried for a 3-yard touchdown but it was called back because of a holding penalty. The Shamrocks finished with 10 penalties for 79 yards.
“Just stupid mistakes,” Shamrocks coach Bob Beatty, whose team will face rival St. Xavier on Friday at Cardinal Stadium, . “You can’t waste a failure. We have to learn from this. We can’t waste this. We have to take these things and go teach and get rid of those mistakes and get rid of the poison about, ‘We’re going to see each other again.’ No, we have another tough game next week.”
Parish (9 of 16, 172 yards) was sacked on the first play of Male’s second-overtime possession, and the Bulldogs looked confused as they lined up for second down.
But Parish knew where to look for the game-winning score.
“It was all discombobulated,” Cummings said. “I was like, ‘Just run the play. We can’t call a timeout.’ So I had a corner route and went through all of the defensive linemen and linebackers and just stuck on the corner and got open and made the play.”
Wolfe has consistently lauded Cummings’ team-first attitude and did so again after Friday’s victory.
“You like to think about coaches, but players make a difference,” Wolfe said. “And he’s not a ‘me, me, me’ player. He blocks. You saw him playing defense and special teams for us. He’s one of those guys who has that competitive edge. He’s a gamer.”