By BRUCE W. SINGLETON, CJ Correspondent
As newly-crowned Homecoming Queen, Hannah Lake looked on, Somerset lost its second game of the season 14-7 to the Whitley County Colonels.
The Homecoming Queen is very pretty.
The game was not.
The great thing about writing sports is the writer gets to put in a lot of opinions. And anyone who tells you a journalist covering a hometown team can be unbiased will also probably tell you stories about the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, and that every lawyer on the planet is an honest, law-abiding citizen.
So as you read this story, keep in mind, it is not an unbiased story. What happened at the Briar Patch last night was probably a lot worse than the words you read here.
Somerset came into the game ranked #2 in 2A. Many feel their best game they have played in a long time came just seven days ago at Glasgow.
But the rain started about 15 hours before kickoff and before it was finished, the Briar Patch was more like a Briar Bog. You could probably have planted a crop of cranberries.
The play on both sides of the line showed it.
Somerset won the toss and, uncharacteristically took the first possession of the game. They normally defer when they can. The slippery footing and one incomplete pass forced the Jumpers to give up the ball less than two minutes into the game.
Whitley County could do no better. They, too went three and out.
As the saying goes, rain falls on the just and the unjust. Both teams struggled with the field conditions all night.
Then, on Somerset’s second possession of the night, the Jumpers gave up their first interception of the night to the talented fullback Boston Bryant, who was back in the game after missing last week’s game against Lynn Camp due to knee problems.
His knee must have gotten better.
A lot better.
But try as he could, the Colonels’ second leading scorer could do no more with the field than the Jumpers or anybody else could.
Somerset linebacker Bryson Jones added a spark of hope by recovering a Whitley County fumble, with seconds remaining in the first quarter, but Somerset could not capitalize until less than a minute left in the second quarter, when an on-the-money pass from Gadberry to Cheuvront put the ball barely into the end zone. After the Dobbs kick, Somerset led 7-0 going into the intermission.
A strange meteorological phenomenon began just as the second half got under way. It was kind of like the Carl Sandburg poem which describes fog creeping in on little kitty cat’s feet.
Only this fog was more like a mountain lion. Fog covered the field so densely that the view from the pressbox revealed only shadows moving in the mist.
And things got worse.
With just under 3 minutes left to play in the 3rd quarter, Somerset fumbled on its own 33 yard line, giving Whitley County its best field position of the night on Somerset’s second gaff of the night. Even though The Colonels were penalized four times in the drive, they still managed to put the ball into the end zone as the fourth quarter was getting under way.
It was on a little pitch out to Zac Mills, a freshman running back. They liked the play enough that they did it again just seconds later for the 2-point conversion.
At this point, Somerset trailed in a ball game for the first time in weeks.
Time to get on the scoreboard again. Time to pass.
But Whitley’s Bryant smelled the play, stepped in front of the ball, and rambled 38 yards into the end zone for the touchdown. Somerset’s Jacobi Gilmore blocked the extra point attempt, but Somerset would still have to score twice to win the ball game.
It was almost as if an air of urgency came over the Jumpers as they marched the ball down the field in great chunks.
But the drive ended on an interception at the Whitley County 9.
Somerset would get the ball back again, and then again, but interceptions and unsportsmanlike conduct calls kept them from a place on the scoreboard.
And when it was over, Somerset had lost its second game of the season, its second in a row to Whitley County, and a whole lot of momentum it brought from the Highlands of Glasgow.
Needless to say, Somerset Head Coach Robbie Lucas was not pleased.
“You saw two teams trying to play in some very tough circumstances,” Lucas said. “The field conditions were terrible. But Whitley County played extremely well: their big fullback made plays again when we didn’t, and we committed a lot of fouls on our behalf. That’s what’s killing us right now.”
Lucas is not one to mince words, or to try to make excuses for his team or for himself. “We are a very good team when we do what we are coached to do. And until they start doing that, we are going to have moments like this. We took one of the better 5A schools in the state, and we should’ve beat them.”
Most people thought they would, but numerous cases of shooting themselves in the foot cost the Jumpers the ball game.
But there are some good things about the loss last night.
It’s not a loss in the district, for one. District play doesn’t start until the Jumpers travel to Danville next week. Lucas is very aware of the road ahead.
“Danville is much better than they have been: athletic and big up front. And they have an ax to grind with us,” he acknowledged.
“Some people say they’re the best in 2A” he continued. “We’ll find out next week. They’re always well-coached, always great kids, and it’s always a great game”
Somerset now falls to 4-2 on the year. Danville is 5-1, coming off a 42-26 win Thursday night at Green County.
WC 0 0 14 0 --- 14
SHS 0 7 0 0 -- 7
SHS -- Cheuvront 20 pass from Gadberry, Dobbs Kick :49
WC -- Mills 7, Mills 2 point conversion 11:53
WC—Bryant 38 Int return, kick failed 9:41
Rushing -- Whitley, Mills 18-84 plus 38 Interception return, Mills 9-32, Ysidro 10-17, Hooper 4-6
Somerset—Slaughter 6-43, B. Jones 7-27, Gadberry 8-23, Griffith 3-16, McWilliams 1-1
Kick returns – Whitley, Mills 1 -2; Somerset Cheuvront 2-16, Pelson 1-12, McWilliams 1- 7
Passing – Whitley—Ysidro 1-2, Jackson 0-1
Somerset-- Gadberry 9-22 (1 TD, 4 Int),
Receiving – Whitley Mills 1-27.
Somerset – Cheuvront 5-59 (1 TD), Hinton 1-4, Williams 2-15, Slaughter 1-1