“The effort was there, and that’s what you’ve got to have,” Burcham said. “In the back of your head you’re thinking, ‘Here’s a 5A team and it’s Hoptown,’ but we had pretty much decided we were going to play.”
It was clear early on that the Trigg/Hoptown rivalry has lost no heat, Burcham said.
“There was some interaction before and during the game, and unfortunately, that came back and worked against us in the end,” Burcham said. “We’ve got to play smarter than that and not beat ourselves, but we’re very proud of what we did offensively and defensively at times.”
What worked against Trigg were a haldful of penalties late in the game that hindered the ‘Cats’ chances of closing out the game.
Hopkinsville’s Jeremy Coleman scored on the seventh play of the game’s first drive, running in from 15 yards out. Trigg answered with a solid 12-play, 51-yard drive that ended with a 28-yard field goal by Ethan Sweno.
Hutton White nailed a 34-yard field goal on Hoptown’s next drive, and after the teams traded three-and-outs, the Tigers extended their lead to 17-3 when Marcus Burse scored on an eight-yard run with 1:58 left in the first half.
However, Trigg fought back and trimmed the gap to one possession before halftime. Hopkinsville was flagged for a 15-yard facemask on Austin Durham’s kickoff return, giving Trigg the ball on Hopkinsville’s 42-yard line. Seven plays later, Akeem Wilson punched the ball in from a yard out with five seconds on the clock.
Both teams failed to score on their first drives of the second half. Trigg then regained its momentum on a nine-play drive that started on the Wildcat 12-yard line and was highlighted by a 44-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Stewart to Nick Watkins.
Toddrick Wilson recovered a Hopkinsville fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and another eight plays later, Stewart dove into the endzone on 3rd-and-goal at the 1-yard line, giving Trigg a 24-17 lead with 11:21 to go in the game.
Then, similarly to the 42-28 season-opening loss against Union City, Tenn., the ‘Cats failed to put the game away. The Tigers tied the score after a 10-play drive that ended when Coleman scored on a reverse from 14 yards out.
Four plays later, Trigg lost a fumble, and Coleman scored on a 50-yard run on the next play.
On the point-after attempt, Hopkinsville failed on a fake try, but Trigg was whistled for pass interference. On the next try, another fake, the Tigers again failed, but tempers flared and both teams were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Each team would be flagged for that foul again later in the game, with Trigg’s coming on the first play after the next kickoff and Hopkinsville’s coming after Nate Stewart intercepted a pass with 5:26 left in the game.
Trigg got the ball back with 3:28 left on the clock but lost another fumble on the first play of the drive. Four plays later, Deno Montgomery recorded a 12-yard touchdown run to put the game out of reach.
While Burcham attributed Trigg’s fourth-quarter struggles against Union City more to youth, he credited Hopkinsville with causing more problems for the Wildcats in Friday’s game. The Tigers are coached by former Trigg coach Dixie Jones.
“The first time, I’d probably say that was inexperience,” Burcham said. “This game, I’d say it was probably who we were playing. They’ve got more athletes and a good coaching staff.”
Andrew Stewart had his best game under center of the season Friday, completing 11-of-23 passes for 154 yards and rushing 18 times for 66 yards.
“That’s what you get when you get a quarterback for a second year,” Burcham said. “He’s done it for 15 games and he’s only going to get better, and the guys he’s throwing to are going to get better.”
Wilson ran 10 times for 25 yards and a touchdown and anchored Trigg’s defensive line. Burcham said he was pleased with Wilson’s play.
“That’s the Akeem Wilson we know,” Burcham said. “He played well on defense and offense. It’s time for him to keep doing that and make us better.”
Burcham also praised the play of wide receiver Hakeem Tyler, who left the field late in the game with a knee injury. His status for Friday was uncertain at press time.
Trigg plays Friday at Hopkins County Central, the first of seven opponents Burcham feels the Wildcats can defeat.
However, it won’t be that simple, he said. Trigg will need to continue the kind of effort shown last week and avoid the kind of week the Wildcats had before last week’s 45-7 loss at Mayfield. Several players missed early-week practices prior to that contest.
“You can feel like [we can win the next seven] and think it, but we’ve got to get it done,” Burcham said. “We’ve got to come out and continue to work like we did this week. We had a much better work week this time than we did before Mayfield.”
JV/Freshmen: The freshmen Wildcats open their season Thursday against Hopkinsville, while the junior varsity team returns to action Monday against Madisonville-North Hopkins.
Middle school: Trigg County Middle School’s record was evened at 1-1 after a 32-0 loss last Tuesday against Hopkinsville. The Midcats will play Tuesday at Todd County Central.