The Somerset Briar Jumpers football team stormed through the McLean County Cougars last night in 41-6 victory at William Clark Field to advance to the semi finals of the Kentucky state class 2A playoffs.
“We carried out the gamer plan the way we wanted to,” Somerset High School football coach Robbie Lucas. “We knew (McLean County)would stall and crawl, and they did. Offensively, they were tough to defend because of their formations and their quickness to the sidelines.”
“Our kids played hard and I am really proud of them,” Lucas stated. “I felt like we played exceptionally well, compared to how we practiced this week.”
The Jumpers charged out of the gate with authority and dominated from the very start. After four carries, all for losses, the Cougars were forced to kick it to Somerset with just over a minute off the clock in the opening quarter.
McLean County quickly put the Jumpers in a third and six situation. Junior quarterback Kaiya Sheron threw a screen pass to his top receiver, Kade Grundy, in attempt to move the sticks. However, Grundy dropped a Cougar defender with a nasty juke move and went 43-yards for a touchdown.
After a successful point after attempt by senior Tommy Wombles, the Jumpers led 7-0 with a little over nine minutes left to play in the opening period.
Just four plays after the Somerset score, freshman Jerrod Smith blew through the Cougar line and leveled quarterback Matthew Miller causing him to lose control of the football. A pack of Jumpers hopped on the ball and just like that, the offense was on the field again.
Somerset opened up their second possession with a long completion from Sheron to senior receiver Jayden Gilmore to get deep inside McLean County territory. A few plays later, junior running back Cam Austin busted through the line of scrimmage and powered into the endzone from 10-yards out to help his Jumpers to a 13-0 lead.
Later in the quarter, senior defensive lineman Jacob Grabeel pushed through the interior of the McLean offensive line, stripped Miller, and recovered his own forced fumble to give his offense another chance to convert a turnover to points on the scoreboard.
The Jumpers would do just that to close out the first quarter too. Several completions and carries by Sheron, Austin, and freshman runner Guy Bailey put them just inside the Cougar 20-yard line, and Austin broke a few tackles to score his second touchdown of the night, this time from 19-yards out.
Early in the second quarter, the Jumpers were in position to score again, but the Cougars came up with strip sack and recover of their own. They then took the ball all in the way inside of the Somerset 30-yard line.
However, when there, Grabeel dropped Miller for a loss on third and three. Miller attempted a pass on fourth down, but it was broken up by senior defensive back Tate Madden causing McLean to forfeit the ball to the Jumpers on the Somerset 31-yard line.
The Jumpers drove it down field again with ease, and on first and ten to go from the Cougar 14-yard line, Austin cut right and sped into the endzone untouched for his third score of the night. After a failed two-point conversion attempt, Somerset led 26-0 with just under three minutes left in the second quarter.
The Briar Jumpers defense quickly forced a three and out on the Cougar offense. McLean lined up in punting formation and snapped the ball to Peyton Caraway. Caraway faked the kick and looked for a receiver but was drilled by Brandon Jones as he threw it.
On the next play after the turnover on downs by the Cougars, Grundy beat his man deep on the right side and Sheron slung a perfect rope to Grundy in the center of the endzone for a 39-yard touchdown.
The McLean County offense took control of the ball with just under two minutes left. The carried the ball multiple times to try to stall out the clock and head into the break. However, Somerset used a timeout and forced them to punt.
Somerset received the ball on the Cougar 49-yard line with just eleven seconds left until halftime.
Sheron dropped back to pass for one last attempt of the first half. Sheron looked downfield but the pressure was on and he was hit from the back. Sheron flipped the ball to Grundy in the flats as he was going down.
After Sheron miraculously got the ball to Grundy, the show was on. Grundy faked out the man in front of him and headed straight for a pack of Cougar defenders. He took the ball straight into the pack and maneuvered around his blockers, cut left and turned on the jets for a 49-yard touchdown as time expired.
Grundy’s third score of the night put his Jumpers up 41-0 heading into the halftime break and would activate the running clock when play resumed.
Three seemed to be the lucky number for the Jumpers as Sheron connected with Grundy for three touchdowns, and Austin rushed three himself.
Sheron finished the half 8-12 for 196 passing yards and three passing touchdowns. Grundy accounted for 154 of Sheron’s passing yards and all three touchdowns. Austin racked up 54 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns on just five carries.
Grabeel and Smith were the shining stars on defense throughout the first half as both came up with a strip sack and multiple tackles for losses.
The Briar Jumper starters sat for the remainder of the game, and the Cougars were finally able to score early in the fourth quarter with a 7-yard rushing touchdown by Caraway.
The Briar Jumpers stalled out the second half with the activated running clock and cruised to a 41-6 victory.
“Anytime you can practice on Thanksgiving that is extremely special,” Lucas stated. “We are one of the four teams left and we have a chance to play at Kroger Field, and that is really special.”
Next Friday, the Briar Jumpers will face off with the 13-0 Breathitt County Bobcats who will travel to the Briar patch for the semi final matchup. The winner of next week’s contest will advance to the Class 2A state championship match at Kroger Field.