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Friday night it was all about TCB for the Collins High School football team.
Taking care of business.
The Titans beat Breckinridge County, 56-6, in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs in a game that was more of a formality than anything else.
“This is just one more step to the state championship,” senior receiver/defensive back Tavis Elzy said afterward. “We came out and did what we needed to do to get ready for next week.”
Collins (10-1), the top-seeded team from District 4, will host Fairdale (8-3), the No. 2-seeded team from District 3, in Friday night’s second round of the playoffs.
The Bulldogs beat Marion County – the only team to top the Titans this season – 20-17, in another first-round playoff game. Fairdale also battered Breckinridge County by 33 points (47-14) on Sept. 24.
Collins clobbered the Fighting Tigers (2-9) by 50 and set a new single-game season-high point total, thanks to three touchdown passes from senior quarterback Branden Cresap, a pair of rushing touchdowns by junior Darian Dugle and two TDs by special teams.
Cresap completed 14 of 23 passes for 190 yards with touchdown passes of 6 and 16 yards to senior Ben Axline and 24 yards to Elzy.
Dugle finished with 129 yards of total offense (86 rushing, 43 receiving) and TD runs of 30 and 12 yards. Junior Cedric Hinkle returned a punt 56 yards for a touchdown, and Elzy carried a kickoff back 65 yards for a score.
Sophomore running back Logan Bailey added a 50-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter – which also started a running clock for the rest of the game because of the state’s mercy rule – as Collins compiled 441 yards of total offense to Breckinridge County’s 159.
The Titans’ eighth consecutive victory couldn’t have started out much better.
The Fighting Tigers muffed the opening kickoff, and Collins freshman Nathan Sames recovered the ball at Breckinridge County's 6. Three plays later, Cresap connected with Axline for the first TD of the game.
On their first possession, the Fighting Tigers picked up three first downs – the first on a 10-yard pass from Ryne Armes to one-armed receiver Chance Anthony – before being forced to punt. However Jordan DeBerry’s kick sailed backwards 3 yards, giving the Titans the ball on the 50.
It took Collins just five plays to score, this time on Cresap’s pass underneath coverage to Elzy, who had nearly hauled in a TD two plays earlier.
“It hit me in the face mask,” Elzy said. “I turned around and got blinded by the lights.”
After holding Breckinridge County to three-and-out on its next possession, the Titans tallied again. This time it took them only three plays – all involving Dugle – to go 60 yards for another touchdown.
First, Cresap connected with Dugle for 17 yards, then 13 on the next play, before Dugle did it by himself on the final play – a 30-yard run – to make it 21-0.
Collins held the Fighting Tigers to three-and-out again before Hinkle started the second quarter with a bang – an electrifying 56-yard punt return. He fielded the ball at his own 44, then ran backwards about 10 yards before turning the corner and breaking free.
“I was like, ‘Ought oh!’ then I turned the other way, and after they missed a tackle, I knew I was gone,” Hinkle said.
Incredibly Hinkle also returned Breckinridge County’s next punt for a touchdown, too, but this one was called back because of a holding penalty.
That Collins drive, however, stalled at the Fighting Tigers’ 4. The two teams then traded turnovers before time ran out on the Titans’ final drive of the first half, which Collins led, 28-0.
The Titans continued to click in the third quarter, requiring just four plays to make it 35-0 on Axline’s 16-yard TD catch from Cresap, which was set up by Dugle’s 31-yard run on the first play of the second half.
And the next time it had the ball Collins needed only two plays to reach the end zone: a 33-yard run on a reverse by Elzy and a 12-yard run by Dugle.
The Fighting Tigers used some trickery for their only touchdown. On their first play from scrimmage after the kickoff, receiver Evan Pollock threw to Armes for a 51-yard gain, and Armes capped a 7-play drive with a pile-driving, 6-yard TD run. Axline intercepted his conversion pass.
Any momentum the Fighting Tigers gained quickly disappeared, though, as Elzy hauled in the kickoff at the 35 and streaked to the end zone.
“Our special teams has been big all year,” Collins Coach Jerry Lucas said. “Tavis had a great run. You could see the blocks setting up…we had some huge blocks on the returns.”
Said Elzy: “That kick return I was excited because that was the first one of my career, and I broke Cedric Hinkle’s school record with it.
Lucas went to his bench after stopping Breckinridge County again, and on the Titans’ first play, after a punt, Bailey bolted 50 yards up the middle for the final score with 1:56 remaining in the third quarter.
Collins stopped Breckinridge County on its ensuing drive, then ran out the clock. Senior Daniel Dixie led the defense with 7½ tackles, and junior Michael Brooks added six stops.
“It’s great to get the first playoff win in school history,” Lucas said. “The kids came out and took care of business.”