Commonwealth Journal

Local Sports

November 9, 2013

Hatcher propels Jumpers past Betsy Layne

Somerset earns rematch with 9-2 Middlesboro

Betsy Layne — The Somerset Briar Jumpers advanced to the second round of the playoffs Friday night by beating 10th ranked, two seed Betsy Layne 29-20.

The Bobcats brought a 9-1 record into the game, having lost to only its district rival Prestonsburg. The Bobcats brought significant stats into the game reflecting a season of high numbers of yards through the air and on the ground along with high numbers of points scored.

But the Briar Jumpers didn’t let those statistics rule Friday night. What ruled was hard-fought, enthusiastic football.

Except for the Prestonsburg game, Betsy Layne allowed less than 5 points to score per game. Somerset scored 29.

Betsy Layne has been rushing 141 yards per game.

Somerset held them to 64 (the second time in two weeks that the Briar Jumpers have held their opponent to less than 65 yards on the ground.)

Betsy Layne has been passing for 271 yards and 3.2 touchdowns per game through the air.

Somerset held them to 194 yards and only 2 touchdowns.

Betsy Layne has been scoring 48 points per game.

Somerset held them to only 20.

There will be many who say the game was not lop-sided enough and that Somerset should have put a lot more points on the board.

But a win is a win is a win is a win.

It is also the gift of another 48 minutes to play football in.

Somerset head coach Robbie Lucas was pleased with his team’s overall performance.

 “We had a quite a bit of nice plays,” he said. “We just didn’t string them together the way we would like to have. It was basically big play or bust. Very few drives in there. Give Betsy Layne credit. I feel like they came out and took away things that we usually do well, and we didn’t react very well.”

There will be a lot of talk about the quality of the officiating and of the apparent lack of knowledge on the part of the boys wearing stripes about certain football rules. Rules like the one that says you don’t call it a completed pass when the receiver takes after a short hop. Or the one that says an interception in the end zone results in a touch back. Any roughness on the part of the other team constitutes a mugging and not legitimate football play. Or, well, let’s just say people will be complaining about a lot of the things the officials did or failed to do.

They have a legitimate complaint, but that is not going to change the outcome. Fortunately, the Briar Jumpers don’t want to change the outcome.

“The official isn’t going to pick up a flag once he throws it,” Lucas said, “so you need to walk away and play the next play.”

Unfortunately, the Briar Jumpers didn’t just walk away every time.

“We can point to those, and I think we can also turn to the fact that we turned it over three times,” Lucas countered. “We fumbled a punt return and we had 2 picks. Those things absolutely will kill you.

“Any time you come to a place like this, they will be primed and ready to go. They were definitely a 2-seed and a 9-1 team for a reason. They brought it to us. Again, I worry about our reaction. I don’t know if it was the off week again or whatever, but now that we’re getting healthy, maybe we can get a little consistency coming.”

But it was great to see the hard hitting, enthusiastic brand of football everybody loves in high school play. That enthusiasm was contagious.

“I am proud of the kids,” Lucas said. They realize we have to survive to advance. This time we are fortunate enough to try to go back and try to improve as a team. Betsy Layne’s not so lucky, and it is a shame, because they are a very good team, well coached and really took it to us tonight. We’ve got a week to come back, and we’ve got to get ready for Middlesboro. We have got to go down there with a little bit better composure and better game plan from me as a head coach, and a little better execution holding onto the ball.”

Rather than trying to give credit where it is due on the outstanding defense that the Jumpers turned in Friday night, I want to take the chance to look at the film, but it is certain that I will be talking about Bailey McEnroe, Haden Fox, and Kagen Skidmore next Friday morning. Their defensive action was part of the team play that helped Somerset bring down another opponent when they were apparently outmatched.

The Briar Jumpers got to see action from Will Lange for only the second time this season. This should add some anticipation to next week’s game as he joins Jordan Doan, who has also been out with injuries, in the Somerset backfield.

The pressbox gave game MVP honors to Bryson Jones, not only for the stats he turned in, but also for his special teams work.

“I am extremely proud of Bryson Jones,” Lucas said. “The last four weeks have been his best all season. He does have guts. He has had some bumps and ailments that have taken him out of some games, but he is finishing off his senior season with a flourish. We need more to step up and do that.”

And of course, special teams work can make or break a ball game. Jones was back on punting duties Friday night in a way that made a difference.

“I am glad somebody else appreciates that,” Lucas said. “It changes the whole look of the field. It changes their offensive calls. It eases our defense up a little bit. You don’t have your back against the wall. We were very fortunate he got off a good kick and Bryson is capable of that. And believe it or not, he didn’t hit it as well as he is capable of, but he got a good roll. If he ever hits one, you’re looking at 70, 80, 90 yards, and I am not exaggerating that. He can absolutely boot the ball.

“We got some real good work out of the special teams tonight,” he concluded. “But we need more from everybody: the coaching staff, players, you name it. We need more.

The Briar Jumpers will have the opportunity to give that extra bit as they get one more chance to keep their playoff season alive next week when they travel to Middlesboro.

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