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Last-second field goal gives Mayfield 31-28 victory over Beechwood in Class 2A state semifinal game

By Chad Hensley
NKyTribune sports reporter

A redemption-like field goal as time expired gave Mayfield a 31-28 victory over Beechwood in a Class 2A state semifinal game on Friday night in Mayfield.

Lincoln Suiter, a left-footer place kicker, converted the 18-yard field goal attempt to give the Cardinals (12-1) the win. They will play Owensboro Catholic in the state championship game at 4 p.m. Friday at the University of Kentucky’s Kroger Field.

In last year’s state final, Suiter missed an extra-point kick in the closing minutes of his team’s 14-13 loss to Beechwood, but he was on target in Friday’s rematch.

Beechwood quarterback Clay Hayden threw three touchdown passes in his team’s semifinal loss to Mayfield.

Beechwood (12-2) trailed, 28-14, at halftime and chipped away at the lead until tying the contest at 28-28 on a Clay Hayden to Luke Erdman touchdown pass from 24 yards out with 2:17 left in the game.

With the tide seemingly against the home team with less than a minute to go, a Mayfield defender stepped in front of a Hayden pass for an interception that would eventually set up the game-winning field goal.

Beechwood was the Class 2A state champion the last three years.

Mayfield opened the game with a strong defensive stand that ended in with an interception. Two plays later, a 56-yard touchdown run by JoJo Starks gave the Cardinals a 7-0 lead.

Beechwood responded by methodically marching down the field and Hayden connected with Chase Flaherty on a 15-yard touchdown pass to tie the contest at 7-7.

Mayfield took a 21-7 lead on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Zane Cartwright to Mak Hoover with 1:28 left in the first quarter and a 5-yard touchdown run by Starks with 6:51 left before halftime.

With their backs against the wall in a packed, hostile environment, the Tigers roared back less than two minutes later when Flaherty scored from a 1-yard out to cut the deficit to 21-14.

Flaherty’s touchdown run was set up by a massive third-and-nine conversion when Hayden connected with Tyler Fryman on a 55-yard pitch-and-catch down to the Mayfield 6-yard line.

The teams traded punts near the end of the first half, but Starks bulldozed his way over a Beechwood defender at the line of scrimmage and raced 15 yards into the end zone for his third touchdown, giving the Cardinals a 28-14 halftime lead.

Mayfield appeared to have taken a three-score lead early in the third quarter, but a penalty negated the touchdown and Beechwood took over deep in its own territory.  The Tigers marched down the field on a drive that was capped by a Fryman’s touchdown reception that cut the deficit to 28-21 with less than 5:30 left in the third period.

After yet another Mayfield touchdown was wiped off the scoreboard by a penalty, Beechwood got a chance to tie the game. Erdman’s touchdown reception did that with 2:17 left on the clock. But the Suiter’s last-second field goal handed the Tigers their first post-season loss since Nov. 29, 2019, when they fell to Mayfield, 35-7, on the same field.

The senior class for Beechwood has nothing to hang their heads about after helping win three state championship trophies and compiling a 51-5 record over their four years with the program.

BEECHWOOD     7    7  7  7 — 28
MAYFIELD         14  14  0  3 — 31

M — JuJu Starks 56-yard run (Lincoln Suiter kick)
B — Chase Flaherty 15-yard pass from Clay Hayden (Colson Lair kick)
M — Mak Hoover 35-yard pass from Zane Cartwright (Suiter kick)
M — Starks 5-yard run (Suiter kick)
B — Flaherty 1-yard run (Lair kick)
M — Starks 15-yard run (Suiter kick)
B — Tyler Fryman 29 pass from Hayden (Lair kick)
B — Luke Erdman 24-yard pass from Hayden (Lair kick)
M — Suiter 18 FG
RECORDS: Beechwood 12-2, Mayfield 12-1

State championship games at University of Kentucky

Class 1A — Pikeville (11-2) vs. Raceland (11-3), noon
Class 2A — Mayfield (12-1) vs. Owensboro Catholic (14-0), 4 p.m.
Class 4A — COVINGTON CATHOLIC (14-0) vs. Boyle County (14-0), 8 p.m.
Class 3A — Bell County (13-1) vs. Christian Academy-Louisville (13-1), noon
Class 6A — Louisville Trinity (11-3) vs. Lexington Bryan Station (11-3), 4 p.m.
Class 5A — COOPER (14-2) vs. Bowling Green (11-3), 8 p.m.

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