By Don Brown
October 31, 2013
Turnovers played a key role last Friday night at John Hardin High School as the Bulldogs rolled past the Cougars 40-7 in the final district game of the season.
Despite the loss, the Cougars secured a home game in the first round of the playoffs as Jeffersontown defeated Iroquois 21-7 in Louisville. Both Jeffersontown and the Cougars wound up with 2-2 district records, but on the strength of the Cougars 17-14 win over the Chargers, they will go into the playoffs as the number-two seed in the district and will host a first-round game on Friday, November 8. The opponent, from District 4, has yet to be determined.
Regardless of the final score, the Cougars played a stout game defensively, stopping the potent Bulldogs five times in the first half. They trailed just 14-0 with under two minutes left in the second quarter before giving up a late touchdown on a Hail Mary pass with just five seconds left in the half.
Grayson County lost a pair of fumbles in the first half. Neither of those cost the Cougars any points, but a first-period interception and two more lost fumbles at the start of the second half cost the Cougars dearly.
Grayson County had the ball to start the game, but Trey Waltermire was intercepted on third down and the Bulldogs had excellent field position at the Cougar 27. From there it took just five plays for the Bulldogs to get on the board when Elijah Smith ran in from the six to make it 7-0.
The Cougar defense came up with stops on the next three Bulldog possessions, with Dylan Woodcock intercepting a Patrick Anderson pass to end one of them.
But the Cougar offense struggled all night to move the ball against the Bulldog defense and they went three and out following each of those stops.
John Hardin finally put something together after taking over at their own 33 with 8:26 left in the first half. Three runs moved the ball to the Cougar 38, from where Smith got loose again for a 38-yard scoring run to make it 14-0.
Grayson County had possession at their own 10-yard line with 4:29 remaining. Quarterback Trey Waltermire had a nice gain on first down, but lost the ball on a fumble and the Bulldogs recovered at the 19.
To their credit, the Cougar defense bent but did not break there, regaining possession at the three on a Bulldog fumble with 2:25 left. A Bulldog personal foul penalty on the play moved the ball out to the 19. But the Cougars were unable to move the ball further and were forced to punt again, with John Hardin taking over at their own 43 with 1:55 left to play.
The Bulldogs gained a couple of first downs, but faced a fourth-and-three from the 26 with just seconds remaining. Anderson dropped back as the clock was winding down and sent a high, arcing pass into the end zone where Dimitri Cooper came down with it for a touchdown with five seconds showing on the clock. The extra point was no good, but John Hardin held a 20-0 lead at the half.
If the Cougar harbored any hope of a second half comeback, the first 30 seconds of the third quarter ruined their chances. Grayson County squibbed the second-half kickoff, giving the Bulldogs excellent field position at the 50. On the first play from scrimmage, running back Khalil Frazier took it all the way to the end zone to make it 27-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, Woodcock returned from his own six out to the 19, but he fumbled the ball and the Bulldogs had it again deep in Cougar territory. On first down, Frazier ran it in again and with just 30 seconds run off the clock, the Bulldogs had scored twice and led 34-0.
Grayson County took over at their own 34 on the next possession, but on first down fumbled the ball away again. The Cougar defense stopped them this time, taking over at their own 24, but when they were unable to move the ball, had to punt it away again.
The Bulldogs took over near mid-field and moved 55 yards in just four plays for their final touchdown. Smith took it in from six yards out for his third score of the night. The extra-point try failed, but it was 40-0 with 5:35 left in the third period and the clock began to run continuously.
The Cougars avoided the shutout when they moved 54 yards in seven plays in the fourth quarter. Talon Gary broke free in the middle of the field and carried 23 yards for the score.
The Cougars will end their regular season this coming Friday when they travel to Russell Springs to take on the Russell County Lakers. A 4A team, the Lakers are 8-1 on the season and are averaging 43 points per game while allowing just over 10 points per contest. Game time is set for 7 p.m.