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EARLIER: Rockets drill North Hardin, 42-18

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Cottrell carries load in big second half

By Todd Martin

Another slow start put the Rockets behind, but a strong finish Friday gave the SCHS football team its first victory of the season, 42-18 over visiting North Hardin.

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Trailing, 18-14, at the half, the Rockets (1-1) came out and dominated the second half, outscoring North Hardin (2-1), 28-0, and controlling both sides of the ball.

Shelby took the lead with the opening possession of the third quarter, a clock-devouring drive that started on the SCHS 15-yard line and lasted the first 8:09 of the quarter, ending when Branden Cresap hit Matt Page with a 12-yard pass for the score.

After that 18-play drive, the Rockets handed the ball over – literally and figuratively – to Quinten Cottrell.

The junior running back had 17 of his 23 carries and 98 of his 131 yards in the second half, as he put the Rockets on his back.

Cottrell gained the bulk of the yards on four second-half touchdown drives, and his 6-yard TD run with 4:24 to go in the game put the Rockets comfortably ahead, 35-18.

“The line was great [Friday],” Cottrell said. “Without them, I had nothing. I just did what the coaches called for.”

Along with two catches, Cottrell’s 19 touches accounted for 45 percent of the Rockets’ offense in the second half.

“Quinten’s our energizer bunny,” SCHS Coach Todd Shipley said. “He earns every bit of it. Pound-for-pound, he’s probably the strongest kid we have on the team.”

The Rockets used a hurry-up offense throughout the second half, forcing North Hardin to leave defenders in too long, which left them sucking wind.

“We came out in the second half behind that hurry-up and just starting shoving it down their throat,” Shipley said. “We were wearing them out.”

However, the coaches did get concerned about Cottrell’s workload.

“We started to get a little worried because he took some big shots. He delivered some, too, but he took some shots,” Shipley said.

Cottrell said he did get a little tired, but he wasn’t going to come out.

“There was one time that I needed a breather, and I called over to the coaches,” Cottrell said. “But I wanted right back in.”

As Cottrell and offense continued to milk the clock, the Rockets’ defense dominated after the first quarter.

The Trojans scored two quick early touchdowns, but the Rockets bucked up and stymied North Hardin over the final three quarters.

The Trojans tallied 153 yards on those first two drives – including an 87-yard TD pass – but had just 125 yards and six points the rest of the way.

Shelby cut into the lead with Cresap’s 11-yard TD pass to Edwin Thomas in the first, and took a 14-12 lead in the second when Nigel Beach recovered a fumble on the North Hardin 39-yard line. Beach later plunged in from the 3 for the score.

North Hardin regained the lead with a 10-yard TD with 1:08 to play in the second quarter.

After the Rockets scored on the opening drive of the second half, Cresap found Tavis Elzy for a 6-yard score that pushed the lead to 28-18. The two connected again, this time for 23 yards, with 2:06 to play for the game's final score.

Cresap, a junior in his second start since recovering from knee surgery, had a big night. Rebounding from a tough opener, he completed 25 of 40 passes for 209 yards and four TDs.

“Branden did a great job spreading the ball around,” Shipley said. “He had five different receivers with at least three catches.

“Our goal was to get Tavis [Elzy] more involved this week after just one catch last week. He had nine catches [for 81 yards and two TDs], and Matt Page had a touchdown and four catches.”

Shipley said the offense’s versatility and execution was the most impressive.

“We were able to run the ball and throw the ball effectively,” he said. “And the most important thing is we were able to do that even when they knew we were going to. If it was third-and-short and we were going to run or if it was third-and-long and they knew we had to pass, we were able to convert.”

The most important thing, though, was the Rockets’ got the victory, their first this season.

“This game means a lot,” Cottrell said. “It brings a lot of excitement to the team and the fans, and it justifies some of that hard work we’ve put in. But we know we have a lot better teams coming up, so we have to use this to make us continue to work harder. This was a great win, but it’s just a start.”