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Josh Jaggers doesn’t believe in moral victories. The first-year LaRue County coach is more inclined to actual ones.
Still, after his visiting Hawks went toe-to-toe with the Louisville Central Yellowjackets during Friday night’s Class 3-A, District 3 title game, Jaggers wasn’t too down following the hosts’ 16-8 win.
“I think we obviously are going to continue to get better. Because we have to,” Jaggers said. “But this let the boys know that you know what? We can play with anybody we step on the field with.”
Ranked No. 1 in 3-A by The Associated Press, Central (8-1, 3-0 district) hasn’t lost to a 3-A opponent since falling to Paducah Tilghman in the 2009 state semifinals. Before that loss, the Yellowjackets had won the previous two 3-A state titles.
“And we went absolutely toe-to-toe with them,” Jaggers said. “We threw a punch and they threw a punch and we would land another punch. They just landed one more.”
The Yellowjackets struck first as senior running back Deris Cox ran for a 76-yard touchdown in the first quarter and senior Derius Jones ran for the conversion.
The Hawks had a long answer as senior Kelton Ford capped off a 12-play, 47-yard drive with a 1-yard run. The drive took 9:38 to complete. Ford, who finished with 30 yards on nine carries, also ran for the conversion.
Late in the second quarter, the Yellowjackets scored the winning touchdown on an 8-yard run by Cox, who finished with 204 yards on 22 carries.
LaRue County had five chances to try to tie, but the Hawks punted twice, fumbled it away once and turned the ball over on downs twice.
The Yellowjackets had a chance to finish off the Hawks in the final 5 minutes, but the Hawks’ defense held strong. Central couldn’t score an insurance touchdown despite having first-and-goal from the 7.
The Hawks ran 10 plays following the turnover on downs, but they threw three straight incompletions to end the drive.
“I feel bad for the boys. I didn’t do a good job in the end,” Jaggers said.
LaRue County limited the Yellowjackets’ usually prolific offense to 298 yards on 47 plays.
“What they want you to do is they want you to fly up field and overpursue,” Jaggers explained. “We always try to play a controlled type of wall along the line of scrimmage and we did that tonight. They squirted through a few times being the players they are.”
The Hawks became just the third 3-A team in three years to play within 10 points of the Yellowjackets.
“Once again, this showed the boys there’s not anyone we can’t play with,” Jaggers said. “We really played well. The kids did what they do and what they were coached to do. They also played with the will they have inside of them. It was just a combination of a couple things.”
UP NEXT: LaRue County hosts Washington County at 7:30 p.m. Friday.