It was not quite the start that the Fort Campbell Falcons wanted to the 2019 season Friday night. Early special teams mistakes and a missed opportunity right before the half helped the Crittenden County Rockets roll their way to a 43-14 win over the Falcons in the season opener for both teams at Fryar Stadium, and the first matchup between the teams since the 1986 season.
The Falcon offense struggled out of the gate, and that struggling was compounded by a couple of special teams mistakes. The first two times the Falcons attempted to punt, the snaps were high, forcing two different Falcon punters to try and run for first downs deep in their own end of the field, with both coming up well short of the first down marker.
Crittenden County was more than happy to oblige the Falcons generosity by taking advantage of the opportunities to take early control of the game. With 3:50 to go in the first quarter, Xander Tabor ran it in from five yards out, and with the two point conversion the Rockets went up 8-0.
With the lead still at 8-0 early in the 2nd quarter, the Rockets exploded for 21 quick points to rip the lead out to 29-0. Hunter Jones hit Tyler Boone for a 57-yard score with 11:14 to go in the half to make it 14-0. Less than two minutes later, as Matt Middleton was fighting for yardage, the Rockets came up with a strip and 57 yard score to push the lead out to 22-0. The scoring blitz was capped off with a 55 yard from Xander Tabor to make it 29-0 with still 7:54 left in the half.
The Falcons then made a move to get back in the game and make things a good bit more interesting. Matt Middleton found Jordan Edwards on a fade to the right corner of the end zone from 18 yards out to cut the lead to 29-6. After a defensive stop, the Falcons marched down to the Rockets’ 7 yard line, where they had it first and goal inside the final two minutes of the half.
On third and goal from the 11, the snap sailed over the head of Matt Middleton, with the Falcon QB finally falling on the ball at the 32. A hail mary pass on the final play of the half was picked off by Crittenden County.
The Rockets then sealed the win with a pair of scores early in the 3rd quarter. Preston Morgeson took it in from 3 yards out to extend the lead to 36-6. Following an interception, Hunter Jones scored on a quarterback sneak from one yard out to make it 43-6 and start the running clock for the rest of the game.
Fort Campbell added a late score when Nathaniel Massey ripped down the left sideline for a 47 yard touchdown. Matt Middleton added the two point conversion to finish the scoring at 43-14
For the night, the Rockets outgained the Falcons 305-214. The Rockets outrushed Fort Campbell 232-52. The Falcons had the better aerial attack, picking up 162 yards to Crittenden County’s 73.
Nathaniel Massey was the leading rusher for Fort Campbell with 15 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown. Matt Middleton was 12-23 through the air for 162 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Jordan Edwards was the top receiver with 7 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown.
The Falcons fall to 0-1 with the loss and will return to action next Friday night on the road at Trigg County. Crittenden County opens the season at 1-0 and will be back in action next week on the road to take on Webster County.