SOMERSET - The Lexington Christian Academy Eagles scored twice late and forced a pair of turnovers in the fourth quarter to beat the Somerset Briar Jumpers 28-21 at William Clark Field.
After the Jumpers scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to take a 21-14 lead, the Eagles felt a sense of urgency and took back the momentum with a deep pass down the right sideline from junior quarterback Drew Nieves to junior receiver Mason Moore that went for 44 yards and put them at the Somerset seven yard line.
Star junior offensive weapon Xavier Brown evaded a few tackles and scored from seven yards out to help even the score once again.
Following the the score that tied the game, the Jumpers were aggressive on first down from their own 20 yard line, and went deep. Senior quarterback Kaiya Sheron looked for senior receiver Kade Grundy, but the ball was slightly underthrown and intercepted by freshman defensive back Parker Chaney.
After two straight runs that did not move the ball forward, Nieves hit Moore in stride down the left sideline for a 37 yard touchdown. Junior kicker Andrew Dobbs sent in the point after to give his eagles a 28-21 lead with seven minutes left to play.
LCA forced a three and out, and the Briar Jumpers punted it back. The Eagles drove the ball into Somerset territory with carries from juniors Tyler Morris and Jeffrey Selby, but eventually had to punt as well.
The Briar Jumpers had one last shot with just under two minutes left in the final quarter. After a completion from Sheron to Grundy, a sack, and an incompletion, on third and 24 from the Somerset 19 yard line, Sheron fumbled a bad snap and several Eagles jumped on it pretty much guarantee victory.
After a few carries, and a kneel, the Eagles avenged their home loss in the playoffs from last season with a 28-21 win on the road.
When asked about the performance, Somerset head coach Robbie Lucas said "Too many negative plays offensively and defensively. Penalties were killers again so it was impossible to compete at a high level against a great team. Injuries caused issues as well."
The injury Lucas was most likely referring too was a knee injury Sheron suffered early in the fourth quarter. He was hit low on a touchdown run and had issues with it for the rest of the game. Sheron thrives off of his mobility in the pocket, and the injury seemed to take away that element of his game.
Early in the game, after stops by each defense, the Eagles got on the board first when Nieves found Moore wide open down the left sideline for a 62 yard touchdown.
LCA stopped the Jumpers again, and got right back to work on offense. Nieves hit Brown deep on first and fifteen from their own 43 yard line for a 50 yard gain. On the following play Brown carried the ball, broke a pair of tackles, and scored from seven yards out to help his Eagles to a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter.
On Somerset's next offensive drive, they started to show signs of life on offense with five completions by Sheron to multiple different receivers, and carries by junior running back Chase Doan.
However, the Jumpers were put in a fourth and goal situation from the LCA twelve yard line after a tackle for loss by senior Mattie Lebryk, a run for no gain, and an incompletion. On the fourth down attempt, Sheron rolled out under pressure by multiple blitzing Eagles and tossed a pass that got intercepted by Chaney.
The Briar Jumpers were able to stop another promising drive by LCA, but did not have much time to do anything offensively, and the half ended with the Eagles ahead 14-0.
After the halftime break, the Somerset opening offensive drive ended abruptly after a pass from Sheron was just out of reach of junior receiver Gavin Stevens, and it was picked off by Chaney.
Despite the turnover, the Jumper defense stood strong, and forced a turnover on downs to give the ball back to their offense.
With the offense back on the field, they worked the ball deep into Eagle territory with carries by Sheron, Doan and sophomore Guy Bailey, and completions from Sheron to Grundy and Doan.
After two straight incompletions, Somerset faced a fourth and ten to go from the LCA fifteen yard line. The Jumpers went for it on fourth, and Sheron rolled left to avoid Eagle pressure and found Stevens in the left corner of the end zone for a fifteen yard touchdown. Junior Christian Whitis sent in the point after and Somerset trailed seven with just over five minutes left in the third quarter.
The Jumper defense then came up with a huge turnover of their own by recovering a fumble by Nieves on first down to give their offense the ball back on the LCA eighteen yard line.
After two straight carries by senior Mikey Garland, Sheron punched it in with a seven yard rushing touchdown. A failed two point conversion attempt left the Eagles ahead 14-13.
Lexington Christian worked the ball deep into Somerset territory with completions from Nieves to Selby, Brown, and Moore, and carries by Nieves and Selby.
However, after two straight incompletions by Nieves, Garland sacked Nievies on fourth and nine from the Somerset fourteen to turn the ball over on downs.
Completions from Sheron to Grundy, Doan, and Michael Hawkins, and carries from Doan brought the ball to the LCA 27 yard line. Sheron punctuated the drive when he scrambled up the middle and galloped to the end zone for a 27 yard touchdown. However, he was shaken up on the play and played on an injured knee for the remainder of the game.
The sophomore backup quarterback, Josh Gross, filled in for Sheron on a two point conversion attempt. Gross threw the ball up to Stevens in the right corner of the end zone and he made the contested grab to give his Jumpers a 21-14 lead with just over ten minutes left in the fourth.
Despite a hard fought comeback, the Eagles were able to regain their momentum and get the win. However, the two teams will likely play again in the post season and there will be another battle, this time with the season on the line.
Key players for the LCA victory were Nieves, Moore, and Chaney.
Nieves threw for 356 yards and two touchdowns, while Moore had 198 receiving yards and both scores. Chaney was a force on defense with several pass breakups and three interceptions.
Top performer for the Jumpers was their entire defensive unit. While they did give up some big plays that cost them, they played well for a lot of the game and had several clutch stops.
The 4th District win by the Lexington Christian Eagles put them at 5-1 on the season heading into another district matchup against the Danville Admirals next week. The Somerset Briar Jumpers dropped to 5-1 and they play a district game against the Washington County Commanders on the road next Friday night.
When asked about what improvements he would like to see and where to go from here, Lucas said "Eliminate penalties, get healthy, and continue improvement in all three phases of the game...Re-group, re-access, and go work on Monday."
LCA 14 0 0 14 - 28
SHS 0 0 13 8 - 21
SHS - Doan 13-58, Sheron 10-33 2 TD's. LCA - Brown 9-38 2 TD's, Selby 13-37
SHS - Sheron 19-33 232 YD's 1 TD 3 INT's. LCA - Nieves 18-26 256 YD's 2 TD's
SHS - Grundy 6-53, Doan 4-50, Stevens 3-39, Bailey 2-34, Gilmore 2-32, Hawkins 2-24. LCA - Moore 7-198 2 TD's, Brown 5-80, Selby 3-52