By BRUCE W. SINGLETON, CJ Correspondent
The Somerset Briar Jumpers closed out their regular season last night with a 28-20 win over the Perry County Central Commodores.
As expected, it was a high-scoring game by Somerset standards. The Jumpers scored the second highest number of points of any game in the season- – second only to the Southwestern game’s 48-2 score. It was also the second most points Somerset has allowed all year. Only Breathitt County, in its defeat of Somerset 24-13 scored more than Perry.
But the fierce Somerset defense only allowed the Commodores to score 20 points. That is high by Somerset’s standards, but was more than two touchdowns shy of Perry County’s average.
Early on, it looked as if the game were going to be all Somerset.
On the second play of the game, Devin Griffith picked off an Austin Pray pass close to midfield. Eight plays and just over three minutes later, the Tanner Gadberry pass to Cam Cheuvront from 22 yards out put the Jumpers ahead in a lead that they would not relinquish the rest of the night.
The teams exchanged punts on the next two series, but when superstar Austin Pray muffed the punt, Somerset’s Brycen McWilliams was there to scramble for the ball and set into play the next Somerset scoring drive. Cheuvront took the Hatcher pass to the 1, Tyson Williams took it in, and after Chandler Dobbs kicked his second perfect strike of the night through the uprights, the score stood at 14-0.
Thus far, two Perry mistakes had given Somerset a 14 point lead.
That lead would extend to 21 before Perry County got serious. Patrick Williams was the Jumper who caught the Hatcher pass from the 21, and the game seemed as if it was all Somerset’s.
But losing was not part of the Perry Central game plan. With 4th and 10 from the Somerset 28, the Commodores showed a double reverse, a halfback pass from Nathan Pray to – of all people – Austin Pray, who had slipped in behind the defense and took the ball to the house.
It looked for all the world like a play you would see back when Max Messamore was coaching the Cowboys. If it hadn’t been a play against Somerset, it would have been fun to watch.
“Maybe we need to dip into Max Messamore’s playbook a little bit,” said Jumper head Coach Robbie Lucas. “They had several trick plays. Coach Haddox has done an excellent job of coaching these kids and they always seem to have a play or two that will keep you off kilter and they did that tonight.”
The play seemed to be the turning point of the game. Although the point after try was knocked out of the air by Somerset’s Bryson Jones, the Jumpers seemed to lose a little bit of the swagger they had shown before they bit at the sucker play. Yes, there was a nice interception by Tyler Megargel, which interrupted what the Commodores hoped to be their second scoring drive of the night, but the Jumpers seemed to come to the realization that this team was not going to lay down and let them win.
Indeed, when the teams returned to the field after the intermission, the Commodores executed a near-perfect onsides kick, and ten plays later, Austin Pray scampered into the end zone to reclaim one of the touchdowns he had given away by his errors earlier in the game. The 2 point conversion pass put the score at 21-14 and everyone in the Briar Patch knew that a competition was taking place.
And then the rain began.
And Quarterback Pray left the game with an injury.
After Somerset had watched 14 unanswered points go onto the board, it appeared as if they would score from the 1. But the snap went far over the head of the quarterback, the pass was intercepted in the end zone, and Perry County was back into the ball game.
But Somerset was able to hold on, score another touchdown, then play a super-prevent defense knowing that even if the Commodores were able to score, they wouldn’t be able to make up a 14 point deficit.
Perry County did score again with 29 seconds left in the game, but it was far too little and far too late to win the game.
What we did see last night, though, was the quarterback situation begin to come together. For a large part of the game, both Tanner Gadberry and Castle Hatcher shared the same backfield. It should be a sight that the opposition should dread. It gives what may be the best of both worlds.
Coach Lucas designed it that way.
“I know that there are a lot of armchair quarterbacks out there, but I want to say that we have two young men who need each other,” Lucas said. “I am very proud of both of them, how they handled themselves. Castle has a world of talent; Tanner is a steady leader, and they handled the ball game about as well as anybody can expect.”
Somerset will host Shelby Valley next Friday night as the playoffs begins.
As part of the pregame festivities, a benefit supper will be held for the two players who were injured earlier in the season in the automobile crash.
PCC 0 6 8 6 –20
SHS 14 7 0 7 – 28
SHS— Cam Cheuvront 22 pass from Tanner Gadberry 1 run (Chandler Dobbs kick) 8:24
SHS—Tyson Williams 1 run Dobbs kick 2:56
SHS — Patrick Williams 21 pass from Castle Hatcher, Dobbs kick 9:55
PCC—Austin Pray 22 pass Nathan Pray, kick failed 6:39
PCC—Austin Pray 2 run, Nathan Pray pass from Austin Pray 7:23
SHS—Hatcher 1 run Dobbs kick 1:11
PCC — Nathan Pray 8 pass from Austin Pray, conversion failed :28
RUSHING—Perry County: Austin Pray 19-103(1TD), Nathan Pray 6-20, Devan Brewer 3-17, Darryl Beatty 3-minus 3. Somerset: Tanner Gadberry 10-69, Will Lange 13-69, Bryson Jones 5-36, Hatcher 5- minus 3(1TD), Tyson Williams 1-1
PASSING—Perry County: Austin Pray 16-27-157 (1TD 1 conv. 2 INT), Nathan Pray 1-1-28(1TD), Seth Napier 1-1-12. Somerset, Gadberry 1-3-22 (1 TD), Hatcher 6-10-115(1 TD, 1INT).
RECEIVING—Perry County – Nathan Pray 7-76 (1TD, 1 conv) Beatty 5-52, Austin Pray 1-28 (1 TD) Josh Garry 2-29, Brewer 1- minus 2, Tyler Fugate 1-8. Somerset, Cam Cheuvront 3-49 (1TD), Will Lange 1-46, Gadberry 1-6, Patrick Willliams 1-21(1TD)
KICK RETURN Perry County Beatty 2-16, Nathan Pray 2-54 Somerset Cheuvront 2-10