HAZARD - The Somerset Briar Jumpers football team faced their toughest challenge yet as they faced the 4-1 Hazard Bulldogs in Hazard. The Briar Jumpers escaped with a 21-9 victory.
Majority of the first half was ran by penalties, tough defense, and turnovers. Both teams struggled to put the ball in the endzone, and both defenses were rising to occasion.
After three possessions are driving it into Somerset territory and leaving with nothing to show for it, Bulldog kicker Jonah Helm sent throw a miraculous 49-yard field goal to give Hazard the 3-0 lead with 52 seconds left in the first half.
Although the Jumpers did not have a lot of time to get down field from their own 32-yard line, junior quarterback Kaiya Sheron was not about to give in.
Sheron carried the ball twice and the Bulldogs committed on offsides penalty to get Somerset in Hazard territory. Sheron then broke off a 17-yard run and took in out of bounds at the Bulldog 27-yard line with under a second left on the clock.
The Jumpers had one final play in the half, and Sheron made the most of it. The Bulldogs brought the heat, but it was not enough to stop Sheron. He evaded two sacked, rolled right, and fired a straight rope to the back of the endzone where Jayden Gilmore had found some breathing room. Gilmore made the catch and got the feet down with no time on the clock. Senior kick Tommy Wombles knocked in the point after and Somerset went into the break with a 7-3 lead.
The Bulldogs defense made up for it by forcing a three and out on Somerset’s opening possession in the third quarter.
Hazard pounded the ball with the ground game and received a pair of crucial penalty calls in their favor to make their way up field. Senior back Reese Fletcher punctuated the Bulldog’s successful drive with a 6-yard touchdown. They failed to hit the extra point but reclaimed their lead at 9-7 with around five minutes left in the third quarter.
The Bulldog defense forced their second straight three and out and all the momentum looked to be in their favor. Sophomore return man Andrew Ford was hit hard by a pair of Jumpers on the punt and the ball came out. Carson Guthrie jumped on it to give the Jumpers another shot on offense and just like that, Somerset was back in business.
Sheron completed three straight passes to Cam Austin, Guthrie, and Kade Grundy to get his Briar Jumpers down field and in scoring territory.
The Bulldogs forced a fourth down and six to go with Somerset on the Hazard 16-yard line. The offense came out for the conversion attempt and with two seconds left in the third quarter, Sheron rolled right and hit Grundy in the right corner of the endzone for a Somerset score.
After a failed two-point conversion attempt, the Jumpers led 13-9 heading into the fourth period.
Later in the fourth, the Bulldogs seemed to have stopped the Somerset offense again. The punting unit came out for the Jumpers but when the ball was snapped, Grundy took off with it. Grundy broke two tackles, got to the sideline and took it in the endzone for a 54-yard touchdown. Mikey Garland used his inner jumper and hopped right over the line for a successful two-point conversion. Grundy, and Garland helped put the Jumpers up 21-9 with around weight minutes left in the final quarter.
The Jumper defense continued to make plays and when on offense they fed Cam Austin to eat up clock. Somerset struggled a little bit after losing their top back Alex Miller on their first offensive possession, but they adjusted and overcame to get a sweet victory.
The win put the Briar Jumpers at 6-0 on the season and they will be back in action next Friday where they will face the Danville Admirals at home.