"Any time a team with numbers like ours loses a player it affects us on both sides of the ball," said Yeast. "When you lose a player of Brandon's caliber, it hurts that much more. Not having him definitely affected our offense, and on defense as well."
Ford left the game in the second period when the Pioneers, trailing only 7-0, had the Cougars pinned on their own 16. Holy Cross quarterback Aaron Troutman immediately found Merel Booker over the middle for an 84-yard scoring play, and suddenly the margin was two touchdowns.
Holy Cross takes early lead
Holy Cross (10-1) scored on its first series of the game, recovering Harrodsburg's on-side kick attempt at midfield. Four plays later Booker burst 39 yards around the left side on a counter play to give the Cougars a 7-0 lead.
Holy Cross knocked on the door on it second possession, but Ford ended the threat by picking off a Troutman pass at the 3 and returning it to the 43.
That's when the Pioneers began to suffer from self-inflicted wounds on offense. A personal foul followed by a clipping call preceded a Freeman Edwards interception that put Holy Cross back in business at the Pioneers 15, but four plays netted Holy Cross a minus-2 yards.
Harrodsburg followed that with its first real scoring threat after Ford dashed 35 yards to the Holy Cross 30, but a penalty followed by another Edwards interception thwarted that drive.
Holy Cross went up by 14 on the pass to Booker with 4:49 to play in the half, and threatened to make it a three-touchdown game at the end of the half before Shane Webb deflected a Troutman pass in the end zone that was intercepted by Richard Reilly.
"We moved the ball fairly well in the first half, but three different penalties and the two interceptions absolutely killed us," said Yeast. "The way our defense played, we could easily have been up at halftime."
Ford's return sparks Pioneers
Holy Cross took a three-touchdown lead early in the third when Eric Titus sprinted 59 yards for a score with 8:23 to play, but the Pioneers came right back - with Ford back in the game - to mount a drive from their own 20 all the way to a first-and-goal at the Holy Cross 8.
Four plays gained only five of the yards.
"Not getting in right there, that was it," he said. "We get in, we're moving the ball, we still have a good shot. But they made great defensive plays, they stopped us, and there wasn't enough time to come back after that."
The Cougars outgained the Pioneers 376 yards to 121, with Booker rushing 11 times for 147 yards and three scores.
"Our kids gave a great effort," Yeast said. "We came up here with the belief we could win this game, and I still believe we had a shot. We just didn't execute when we had to. We've been frustrated with the way we played during the second half of the season, but tonight we looked like the team that opened the season."
Senior Travis White led the Harrodsburg defense with 18 tackles, while Rashad Buster added 13.