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Beechwood riding 22-game win streak into Class 2A state final after first playoff victory against Mayfield

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

One streak continued and another one ended Friday night when Beechwood blasted Mayfield, 38-7, in a Class 2A state semifinal game at Beechwood.

It was the 22nd straight win for Beechwood over the last two seasons and gives the current team a 14-0 record going into the state championship game against Lexington Christian (14-0) that’s set for at 4 p.m. next Friday at the University of Kentucky’s Kroger Field.

Mitchell Berger reaches the end zone on one of his two touchdown runs for Beechwood. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

The Tigers’ dominant victory also snapped their program’s eight-game losing streak against Mayfield in playoff games dating back to the 1995 season. Noel Rash was the Tigers’ head coach in six of the season-ending losses to the Cardinals with the last one coming in the 2019 Class 2A state semifinals.

“I wish I could say that matters to me, but it just doesn’t,” Rash said of ending the long losing streak against Mayfield. “I know it matters to the community and for the record books, but it’s just got to be about right now. I’m just happy for our kids and I’m glad to feel that way.”

It was Mayfield’s worst loss in a playoff game since 2009 when Lexington Christian whipped the Cardinals, 55-19, in the Class 1A state final. Beechwood’s veteran offensive line had a lot to do with that, according to Mayfield coach Joe Morris.

“They’re big, strong and fast,” Morris said. “We tried to load the box on them as best as we could and just couldn’t get it done. It was a tough loss for us, but sometimes things just don’t go your way.”

Beechwood took a 24-0 lead in the first half with impressive efforts in every phase of the game. After punting the ball on their first offensive series, the Tigers scored touchdowns on three of their next four possessions and Jake Conrad kicked a 36-yard field in the final seconds before halftime.

Beechwood defensive back Parker Mason tries to break up a pass to a Mayfield player. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

The Tigers also had four takeaways in the first half. The defense intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble and the kickoff team came up with a fumble. The offense scored 10 points following two of those turnovers by the Cardinals, who had less than 50 yards in total offense at the halftime break.

Beechwood junior running back Mitchell Berger rushed for well over 100 yards in the first half to surpass the entire Mayfield team. He scored a touchdown on a 12-yard run to give the Tigers a 21-0 lead. The first two touchdowns came on a 7-yard pass from senior quarterback Cameron Hergott to junior Liam McCormack and a 13-yard run by Hergott.

It was the best rushing game of the year for Berger, who has been getting more carries since an injury sidelined starting running back Avery Courtney at the end of the regular season.

“I think they were going to game plan on (stopping) Cam (Hergott) since he loves to get out of the pocket and make things happen,” Berger said. “So our game plan coming in was to let me get more touches than I usually get and play a bigger part.”

Beechwood senior Cameron Hergott breaks into the open on a quarterback keeper. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

On most of his runs, Berger burst through an opening created by Beechwood’s offensive line and picked up good yardage. In the second half, he got 68 yards on his first six carries had scored the touchdown that put the Tigers ahead, 38-0, to start a running clock with 6:48 left in the third quarter.

“Those big five up front played a huge part,” Berger said of offensive linemen Luke Slusher, Austin Waddell, Bryce Shepherd, Colby Vanderpool and Xavier Campbell. “They’re the reason why we won that game, right there.”

Mayfield lost two more fumbles in the second half, but the Cardinals did put together a 68-yard scoring drive to avoid a shutout in their first playoff loss to Beechwood. The western Kentucky team finished the season with a 12-2 record.

Next week’s Class 2A state championship game will be a rematch. Last year, Beechwood edged Lexington Christian, 24-23, in overtime to take its sixth state title under coach Rash and their 15th overall.

“It speaks volumes about our kids and their work ethic and how hard they play for each other,” Rash said of his team’s return to the state final despite having four starting players sidelined by injuries.

“(Lexington Christian) is an incredible football team and extremely well coached, so we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Rash said. “We’ll start working on LCA and put a game plan together, but I’ll take this group we have anytime.”

MAYFIELD          0    0    7  0 — 7
BEECHWOOD  14  10  14  0 — 38

B — McCormack 7 pass from Hergott (Conway kick)
B — Hergott 13 run (Conway kick)
B — Berger 12 run (Conway kick)
B — Conway 36 FG
B — Hergott 10 run (Conway kick)
B — Berger 7 run (Conway kick)
M — Cartwright 3 run (Suiter kick)
RECORDS — Beechwood 14-0, Mayfield 12-2.


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