By Bob Flynn
Special to the Register
Mistakes once again proved the downfall for Madison Southern.
The Eagles for the third time this year were on the short end of a one point game, losing to Garrard County, 14-13 Friday in the regular-season finale.
Costly second-half turnovers proved too much to overcome for the Eagles which had runs of 25-yards by Tyler Hagen and 40 yards by Damien Harris called back by holding penalties, then an extra point blocked, all in the third quarter.
"We're professionals at losing by one point. We've lost four games on the season and three by one point," said a dejected Southern coach Jon Clark. "One-point losses mean there are way too many mistakes. If you don't make those mistakes you win those games."
Clark took exception to the untimely penalties in this game as well as several others during the season.
"If you look back we are probably the most penalized team in Kentucky and I go back and watch the film and half of them don't even exist," Clark said. "We can't buy a call. I've never seen anything like it. We get held as much as anybody, but it never gets called.
Southern got on the board first on its second possession of the game marching 70 yards in 13 plays, capped off by a 4-yard Damien Harris run up the middle to take a 7-0 lead with less than two minutes left in the first quarter.
Harris was held in check most of the night, gaining only 41 yards before leaving the game near the end of the third quarter after getting banged up on a short run.
The Golden Lions wasted no time getting even, taking the ensuing kick off and going 65 yards — all on the ground — and took almost seven minutes off the clock before freshman Jalen McPherson raced into the end zone on fourth-and-one to tie the game at 7-7, which it remained at the half.
After the Golden Lions took a 14-7 lead on quarterback Billy Abney's five-yard run on the first drive of the second half, the Eagles came right back with quarterback Adam Simpson doing most of the damage.
After Harris' big gain was called back, Simpson connected with senior receiver John Williams for 14 yards. He then recovered a Coty Russell fumble on the next play and ran for eight yards.
After Hagan's 25-yard run was called back, Simpson escaped a tackle in the backfield then weaved his way through several tacklers before breaking free down the right sideline for a 42-yard score to pull the Eagles within one at 14-13.
But, Garrard sophomore Matthew Slaven broke through to block Garrison Watt's point after attempt for what ended up being the game-winning play.
Garrard ran the clock down to 46 seconds before Williams fumbled, giving the Eagles one more chance.
But once again the Golden Lion defense stopped the Eagles as three Simpson passes were batted down before he was sacked on fourth and 10 to end the game.
Garrard's interior linemen won the battle in the trenches for most of the night, holding the Eagles high-powered running game to 152 yards — 79 by Simpson — while on offense, opening holes for their own runners to rack up 232 yards, 152 of them by Williams.
Afterward Clark said his team's line play would have to improve in next week's playoff game against Perry County Central.
"Our linemen didn't play very well tonight. We've got to get to the second level and get to the linebackers to run the ball and we didn't do that tonight," Clark said. "Moving forward, our O-line and D-line have to play a lot better for us to be successful in the playoffs."
Simpson was three-of-11 passing for 35 yards to go along with his 79 yards on the ground.
Devante Linville had two catches for 21 yards, while John Williams had one for 14 yards.
Wes Proctor rushed for 24 yards, while Russell had a net 15 yards, Hagen seven yards and Russell 9 yards.
The Eagles take on Perry County Central Friday in Berea in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.