LEXINGTON - A risky decision late in the fourth quarter pays off for the Lexington Christian Academy Eagles as the take a 35-34 victory over their 4th District rivals, the Somerset High School Briar Jumpers.
With just under five minutes left in the district matchup, the Briar Jumpers scored on their first offensive play after an Eagle kickoff to break the 27-27 tie.
Junior quarterback Kaiya Sheron found fellow junior Kade Grundy deep down the left side line. Grundy out sped his double team, made the grab, and broke two tackles to score from 78 yards out. The score gave Somerset a 34-27 lead with 4:45 seconds left on the clock.
Lexington Christian received the kick and pounded it into Jumper territory with several keepers from their senior quarterback Jayden Barnhardt and carries from multiple runners.
When at the Somerset 31-yard line, Barnhardt found junior Will Vernon in the middle of the endzone for the touchdown. With just over two minutes left in the game, the Eagles ignored the opportunity to tie and sent their offense back on field.
Barnhardt took the snap, ran left, and pushed through the contact for a successful two-point conversion. The extra two gave Lexington Christian a 35-34 lead with a little over two minutes left.
The Jumpers had one last opportunity, but the Eagles brought the heat on first down and tackled Sheron for a three-yard loss to put them at their own 13-yard line.
After a false start penalty, a huge sack by Mattie Lebryk, and an incompletion on third and long, the Briar Jumpers found their selves in a fourth down situation inside their own ten.
Sheron completed a short pass to senior receiver Jayden Gilmore who then lateraled it to Grundy, but the Eagles still stopped them short and went into victory formation. After a kneel, Lexington Christian celebrated their 35-34 victory that spoiled the Jumper’s undefeated record.
At the start of the game, senior Jacob Grabeel ended the Eagle’s first offensive possession with a sack on third and ten.
Somerset quickly got into scoring range after a 64-yard connection from Sheron to Gilmore. The Jumpers then pounded the ball all the way to the Lexington Christian 1-yard line where Sheron snuck it in on fourth and goal. An unsuccessful point after attempt put them up 6-0 midway through the first quarter.
Lexington Christian smashed it through the line of scrimmage over and over with keepers from Barnhardt and rushes from Xavier Brown to take them into Somerset territory.
The Jumpers held them and forced a field goal attempt. Sophomore kicker Andrew Dobbs easily sent the ball through for a 34-yard field goal.
Later after stops by both defenses, Vernon took a sweep 48-yards to the endzone to put his Eagles in the lead at 10-6 with just over eight minutes left in the second quarter.
Lexington Christian added three more to their lead just before the half as they were able to take the ball deep downfield and give Dobbs the easy 21-yard field goal attempt. Dobbs hit it with ease to give the Eagles a 13-6 lead heading into the halftime break.
The Eagles forced a three and out on Somerset’s first offensive possession after the break, but the Jumpers got it right back when Grundy intercepted an overthrow by Barnhardt.
The Jumpers pushed it down field on the ground, and junior Mikey Garland carried it 5-yards into the endzone to punctuate the drive. After a successful point after attempt by senior Tommy Wombles, Somerset evened the score at 13-13 with just under seven minutes left to play in the third quarter.
Somerset then shifted the momentum even more in their favor with a quick three and out stop. Dyllan Keith tacked Barnhardt for a loss on third and five to force an Eagle punt.
After the punt the Briar Jumpers easily pushed it into Lexington Christian territory, but the drive then stalled out. The Jumpers went for it on fourth down but Sheron was sacked by Andrew Long putting the ball back in the hands of the Eagles.
Later after another stop by the Jumpers defense, Sheron connected with Carson Guthrie for a 46-yard touchdown on their first play of the drive.
Not even a full minute later, Brown took the ball left and busted off a 48-yard touchdown run to even the score up 20-20 with seventeen seconds left in the third quarter.
Inside the first minute of the final period, junior running back Cam Austin took the ball thirty yards to put the Jumpers at the Eagle 10-yard line. Senior Jace Bruner took it 6-yards for the Somerset touchdown a few plays later to re-establish the Jumper lead.
The Eagles took their time on their next drive and slowly pushed it up field with their ground game. They finished off the drive with a six-yard connection from Barnhardt to Vernon. The touchdown again evened up the score, this time 34-34 with just over five minutes left.
Somerset quickly answered back with the connection from Sheron to Grundy, but the Eagles were able to score and get the two-point conversion for the one-point victory.
After a relentless battle by both teams, Lexington Christian advanced to 7-1 and are on a six-game winning streak. The Eagles will have another district matchup at home against the Danville Admirals next Friday. The Somerset Briar Jumpers dropped to 7-1 but hope to bounce back next Friday where they will face the Washington County Commanders at home.