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Two Late Picks Seal a Classic for Lawrence County

Most expected Western Hills at Lawrence County to be one of the best first round games in the Class 3A playoffs. Ninth-ranked Western Hills and recent Kentucky commit Wandale Robinson were slight favorites over a Lawrence County club that has spent most of the season just outside the top ten and has a superstar in their own in quarterback Noah West. No one expected what ultimately took place in Louisa on Friday night: a 78-74 Lawrence County victory that ranks as one of the most exciting games in Kentucky high school football history.

Robinson opened the scoring with a 50-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game, followed by West scoring from 35 yards out on Lawrence's second play and neither team took their foot off the gas the rest of the evening. Western Hills led 20-16 after one quarter, 42-30 at halftime, and 68-54 after three before Lawrence County pulled ahead in the final frame to win 78-74.

West scored his seventh rushing touchdown of the night, a 50-yard run with 5:46 remaining, to put the Bulldogs ahead by four, but surprisingly it would be the Lawrence County defense that made the two biggest plays in the fourth quarter. Isaiah Rose intercepted a Western Hills pass at his own 25-yard line and then after Lawrence County failed to convert a fourth down, West intercepted another Hills pass with 39 seconds left to win the game.

"Coach asked me how fresh I was, and I said, 'Coach, I’m fresh enough to take us home,'" West told the Ashland Daily Independent. "We got out there and we knew that we had to keep them from scoring, and that was it." (Wild West Shootout: Led by West, Robinson, teams toss up more than 1, yards, 152 points | Sports | dailyindependent.com)

Lawrence County (7-4) ran 73 plays, all but two of them runs, and piled up 581 yards on the ground. Forty-five of those carries came from West, who totaled 393 rushing yards on the evening. The Bulldogs advance to play defending state champions Boyle County next week.

Robinson's career ended with a bang, catching nine passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 129 yards and two more scores. He converted five two-point conversions. He told the Lexington Herald-Leader: "That game was probably the craziest I’ve ever played in. It just kept going back and forth and we just came out on the wrong end."

He'll now move to Lexington to begin his career with Mark Stoops' Kentucky Wildcats, but Robinson was rightfully pleased with his high school career: "I wouldn’t trade my high school football career for a thing. I loved being at Western Hills." (UK commit Wandale Robinson’s career ends despite sensational night for Western Hills | Lexington Herald Leader)

Region III

While Lawrence County and Western Hills battled to the end and combined for 152 points in the game, the rest of the region saw blowouts. Top-ranked Boyle County (11-0) had no trouble with Floyd Central, winning 49-0. The Rebels offense was highlighted by three touchdown passes from Reed Lanter, two to Reese Smith, along with 126 rushing yards from Tanner Crawford.

Fourth-ranked Belfry led only 7-0 after one quarter but blew it open with four second quarter touchdowns to beat Garrard County, 41-0. Belfry (9-2) will now host fifth-ranked Lexington Catholic, 58-18 winners over Pike County Central. Beau Allen was 10-14 on the night for 308 yards and five touchdowns for Catholic (8-3).

Region IV

Second-ranked Corbin and eighth-ranked Bell County had no trouble in their first round games, as the Redhounds (10-1) romped over Morgan County, 54-16, and the Bobcats (10-1) started slow but dominated after the first quarter, beating Estill County, 61-14.

Corbin will host Powell County, 14-6 winners over Casey County. In a rematch of last year's 44-41 second round shootout, this year's game featured less scoring and less offense. Powell County's Nathan Skidmore ran for 116 yards on the night but it was his third quarter touchdown reception that secured the win for the Pirates (9-2).

Meanwhile, district champion Breathitt County had all that it could handle with 1-9 McCreary Central. Breathitt (8-3) needed a halfback pass from Jacob Noble to Tyson Gross midway through the fourth quarter to take a lead that would stand, giving the Bobcats a 7-6 win. Breathitt County will host Bell County next Friday but certainly will need a stronger offensive performance to compete with Bell.

Region II

Bardstown was the only Class 3A school to win a first round game on the road, beating Bath County, 21-7. Bardstown (6-5) scored twice in the second half, the second on a 4th & 14 play, to pick up the victory. Next week the Tigers will travel to Central, 66-0 victors over Fleming County. Central (9-2) won the first meeting, 45-6, on October 12, and has allowed 21 points total in their last six games.

On the opposite side of the bracket, Russell and Waggener picked up victories to set up one of the more enticing second round matchups. Jacob Thompson picked off three passes for Russell (7-4) as the Red Devils beat Thomas Nelson, 42-13. Waggener (8-3) struggled to put away West Carter for much of the night before posting four fourth quarter touchdowns to win, 40-6.

Region I

Larue County (6-5) used perhaps their best overall offensive game of the season to whip Union County, 48-29. It will be a Jaggers family reunion for the second year in a row as Larue County coach Josh Jaggers takes his Hawks to play Caldwell County and quarterback Joby Jaggers. Joby Jaggers threw two first quarter touchdowns for Caldwell (8-3) to get the ball rolling and they never looked back, defeating Edmonson County, 37-20.

For the fourth consecutive year Elizabethtown will host Paducah Tilghman in the second round. Elizabethtown (7-4) used Clay Games' 202 passing yards and five scores to roll to a 61-33 victory over Trigg County. For Tilghman, running back Makel Askew led the way on the ground as the Blue Tornado (9-2) piled up 291 first half rushing yards and beat Hart County, 50-7.