By BRUCE W. SINGLETON, CJ Correspondent
The Somerset Briar Jumpers closed out the 2012 season with a 27-18 loss to the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds.
It is a game that the Somerset faithful don’t want to read about.
It is a game that I don’t really want to write about.
But NewCath brought to Somerset exactly what they showed us on the film: a game dominated by the running of Senior running back Dylan Hayes and the passing of Senior Quarterback Josh Cain to his favorite receiver, Junior wide receiver Mac Franzen.
It was a game characterized by long, long possessions by the Thoroughbreds. They converted on third and fourth down plays all night long. Those possessions were ground-grinding times when the Breds crept toward the goal line and then scored from very short yardage. Their only long score of the night came very late in the game on a 33 yard pass that surprised everybody in the stadium including the Thoroughbred assistant coach seated next to me in the press box. They only punted once.
They just took the ball and the clock and held on for the win.
The final score is not at all indicative of the way the game played out, though.
NewCath led by only 1 at the half by a score of 7-6.
Even after the two teams traded touchdowns and missed 2-point tries during the 3rd quarter, that differential remained the same.
Somerset was even able to capitalize on the few mistakes NewCath made by recovering 2 fumbles and getting Addison Thompson his 4th interception on the year.
But very late penalties against the Briar Jumpers: face mask and a dead ball personal foul on the same series with under 3 minutes to play proved too difficult an obstacle for the Jumpers to overcome.
There were some very good moments in this loss.
Will Lange cut loose with a brilliant 68-yard kickoff return late in the first quarter. That set up an 11-play drive that culminated in Somerset’s first touchdown of the night as Castle Hatcher fought hard against a stiff goal line defense for the toughest score of the night. The missed kick would leave the score at 7-6 until the 9:28 mark in the third quarter, when Hatcher threw a 54-yard strike to Lange.
The lead would last for a mere five game clock minutes as the Breds scored again in the third, then twice in the fourth.
But even with less than 2 minutes in the game, the Briar Jumpers, who trailed at the time by 8 points fought for the chance to stay in the game. Everyone in purple was praying for the ball and an overtime ball game.
But it was not to be.
Somerset did get the ball back with 1:24 in the game. The Jumpers were able to get into the end zone with no time remaining on the clock on a 4 yard pass from Castle Hatcher to Bryson Jones, but the officials didn’t even hang around for the extra point. With no time on the clock, it would not have made any difference anyway.
It was time to turn off the lights at the Briar Patch for another year and wait for August to come back again.
Somerset’s Head Coach Robbie Lucas talked about the game for the last time this season:
“We played a very good team tonight that made more plays than we did,” he said. “They converted a lot of third and fourth downs that we usually don’t give up. But, I thought our kids battled the same things that have bit us in the tail this entire year: the undisciplined penalties. We got more than our share tonight.”
Robbie Lucas was disappointed as can be expected. His team lost a game that was very much within its reach very late in the game.
But the game NewCath played was nearly flawless, and the game Somerset played was not.
Still, his record over the last four years has been phenomenal.
The Briar Jumpers under Coach Robbie Lucas have played 57 games. Only Trinity can boast a better record. They have won four straight regional titles, which have entitled them to go to the state semifinals four times, and once to the state final game.
“We have played a lot,” Lucas agreed. “I think our program has taken a gigantic step forward because of the tradition that was laid down before we got here. And not a lot of schools can boast 4 state semifinal appearances in a 4 year period. I am very proud of these young men at what they have done over the last 4 years.”
He did not try to offer excuses or explanations as many would do. Instead, he offered thanks.
“I want to thank the community, I want to thank the school, and want to especially thank my kids for the last 4 years. It’s been a really good opportunity to work with some of the better young men and one of the best programs in the state of Kentucky.”
He acknowledged the success was not all of his own making, saying, “We have had all these wins because I have a staff of assistant coaches, most of which have come out of this very program. I could not have played this many games without what they did.”
As a student of the game, Lucas pointed toward the field house where his assistants had congregated, waiting for him to be the last man to leave the field.
“There are several future head coaches among those guys,” he said. “Maybe they will be able to do what I have not.”
Somerset’s final season record is 10-4.
NewCath (10-4) will play Caldwell County (11-3) on December 1 at 11:00 at Feix Field, Houchens Stadium, WKU.
NewCath 7 0 6 14 – 27
Somerset 0 6 6 6 – 18
NewCath — Dylan Hayes 1 run (Nathan Grosser kick) 2:54
Somerset — Castle Hatcher 1 run kick failed 10:03
Somerset — Will Lange 54 pass from Hatcher (2-point try failed) 9:28
NewCath---Hayes 4 run (2-point try failed) 4:43
NewCath---Brady Thacker 5 run (Grosser kick) 4:43
NewCath — Mac Franzen 33 pass from Josh Cain (Grosser kick) 1:24
Somerset — Bryson Jones 4 pass from Hatcher (no kick allowed—time ran out) :00
RUSHING—NewCath Hayes 29-116 (2TD); Josh Cain 4-22; Jacob Smith 3-11; Dan Ruwe 1-3; Brady Thacker 1-5 (1TD); Somerset---Will Lange 3-15, Tanner Gadberry 3-0, Castle Hatcher 13-14; Bryson Jones 4-9; Tevin Slaughter 3-11
PASSING—NewCath Josh Cain 15-19-160 (1 TD 1 INT); Somerset: Tanner Gadberry 3-6-19; Castle Hatcher 9-20-140 (2TD)
RECEIVING—NewCath—Mac Franzen 8-113 (1TD); Pete Collopy 2-9; Noah Freppon 2-27; Hayes 2 – minus 1; Tyler Lyon 1-12; Somerset, Cam Cheuvront 6-37; Tyson Williams 3-31, Bryson Jones 4-18 (1TD); Will Lange 2-83(1TD)
KICK RETURNS – NewCath Franzen 2-28; Kalvin Moore 1-7; Hayes 1- minus 2; Somerset—Cheuvront 1-20, Will Lange 2-80