Central Football

Madison Central quarterback Chaz Hope slips past a Tates Creek tackler during the Indians’ 34-31 double overtime loss Friday in Lexington.

Penalties slowed down Madison Central’s high-powered offense and ultimately played a key role in the outcome of a thrilling early-season showdown Friday with long-time regional rival Tates Creek.

The Indians (2-1) were flagged 11 times, including a holding call on one of the game’s final plays, which helped the Commodores (3-0) pull out a 34-31 double overtime victory. Tates Creek’s Ty Sparks scored on a four-yard run in the second extra session, wrapping up a fantastic finish to a somewhat controversial victory.

“All I know is what I saw,” Madison Central coach Kenny Turner said of the penalties. “I’m not taking anything away from Tates Creek, but you ought to let the players decide it on the field.”

After the two teams traded touchdowns on their possessions in the first overtime, Central got the ball to start the second OT. On the very first play, the Indians were flagged for holding on a Ricky Rhodes rush.

Central never recovered from that penalty and eventually had to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Ryan Blake.

It took Tates Creek just three plays to end the game.

Sparks picked up six yards on second down, then hammered his way into the end zone moments later.

Sparks finished with 141 yards rushing and three scores, while fullback Marcus Kader added 164 yards on the ground on two scores as Tates Creek racked up 306 rushing yards.

“We are all about smash-mouth football,” Kader said.

Central took a 21-14 lead when junior quarterback Chaz Hope connected with Ricky Rhodes on a 33-yard touchdown pass - his third score of the game - with 7:29 left in the fourth. Tates Creek got the ball back and used its traditional power running game to steamroll down the field. Kader had a 23-yard run before the Indians were called for a facemask penalty.

Sparks added the tying score on a 2-yard run with 3:40 left, capping a nine-play, 64-yard drive.

“We are going to keep doing what we do as long as we are close,” Tates Creek coach Mark Willoughby said.

Tates Creek took the opening kickoff and drained almost eight minutes off the clock, but wasn’t able to get in the end zone. The Commodores converted on a pair of fourth down plays, including a short pass, then were stopped short on the 3-yard line.

Tates Creek got the ball back and after a big punt return, Kader scored on a 13-yard touchdown with 5:33 left in the first half.

Kader had just six carries last week in a win over Ballard, but Willoughby put the ball in the big back’s hands more this time around knowing that Central would focus on trying to stop Sparks. Kader had 24 carries as the Commodores avenged last year’s 35-0 loss to the Indians.

“I knew what I had to do,” Kader said.

Rhodes and Hope connected on a 52-yard touchdown pass less than four minutes into the second half, but a missed extra point allowed the Commodores to hold on to the lead, 7-6. Tates Creek added to its advantage later in the third when Kader followed up a long run with a 1-yard touchdown run (14-6).

Madison Central was forced to punt on its next possession, but Chris Rainwater forced a fumble on the kick and the Indians tied the game two plays later. Keyshawn Simpson got loose for a 17-yard gain, then Rhodes scored on a 5-yard run. The junior added the two-point conversion on a pass from Hope that tied the score at 14.

Rhodes finished with three touchdowns, 40 yards on nine carries and had two catches for 85 yards. Isaiah Kavanaugh had 37 yards rushing, Simpson added 62 yards on the ground and Hope completed seven-of-15 passes and was intercepted once.

Rhodes caught a 33-yard pass from Hope to give the Indians the lead late in the fourth before Tates Creek rallied, then added a 3-yard TD run in overtime. Tates Creek answered with a 8-yard run by Sparks to even the score at 28.

“Madison Central has had our number the last couple of years,” Willoughby said. “Our kids came out and played a real good game.”

The Commodores are undefeated after starting last season 0-3. Tates Creek had just three penalties for 31 yards, while flags cost the Indians 73 yards. Central had been averaging more than 400 yards of total offense through the first two games of the season, but had just 319 yards against Tates Creek, only 177 of which came on the ground.

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