Despite turning the ball over five times on the night, the Grayson County Cougar football team won its opening-round playoff game 34-26 last Friday evening against the visiting Eagles from North Bullitt High School.
With the win, the Cougars advanced to the second round and will travel to Mt. Washington this Friday to take on the 10-1 Chargers of Bullitt East, the top-seeded team from District 4. The Chargers’ only loss on the season was a 28-19 decision at Central Hardin. They defeated North Hardin 30-7 last Friday to advance to the second round.
Played before a disappointingly small crowd for the first home playoff game since 2008, the Cougars had five drives of 59-yard or more to outpoint the Eagles.
Grayson County fumbled the ball away on its first possession, then gave it up on an interception on its second. The Eagles meanwhile had a touchdown negated by a holding call on its second possession of the night.
But the Cougars finally put something together on their third possession, moving 69 yards in six plays for the first score. On a second-and-14 play at the 34, Trey Waltermire made the ESPN Top-10 highlights with a twisting, one-handed catch of a Talon Gary pass for a touchdown. Jonathan Reynolds’ kick made it 7-0 with 4:22 left in the first period.
Following an Eagle punt, the Cougars made it 14-0 with a three-play, 62 yard drive with the big play being Gary’s 49-yard run on second down. Dakota Payton took it the final six yards for the touchdown at the 1:28 mark.
The Eagles still had time in the first period to get on the board when running back Josh Exton took a third-and-seven play 63 yards for a touchdown. A two-point conversion was good to make it 14-8 with 30 seconds left in the first period.
Neither team scored in a second period that featured two more Cougar turnovers.
Grayson County had the ball to start the second half and made it pay as they moved 59 yards in seven plays to increase their lead. Dakota Payton rambled for 25 yards during the drive, which was capped off by a five-yard scoring run by Dylan Woodcock. The extra-point was no good to make it 20-8 at the 8:38 mark.
The Eagles responded with an eight-play, 67-yard drive to to make it 20-14 with 3:52 remaining. Exton scored on a three-yard pass play from Logan James on fourth-and-goal, but a two-point try failed.
Grayson County then went 65 yards in seven plays to pad their lead. Lane Rackley, in at fullback for one of the few times this season, had the big play of the drive, running 26 yards, to the six, before Woodcock scored his second touchdown of the night to make it 26-14.
Following a fourth-quarter Cougar punt, the Eagles tightened things again when James hit Exton on a 63-yard pass for a touchdown on the first play of their following possession. The extra-point was no good, making it 26-20 with 6:25 left to play.
On the ensuing Cougar possession, Rackley rumbled 48 yards on a third-and-nine play, setting up the Cougars at the Eagle 13. On the next play, Gary carried for the score. Rackley then ran in a two-point conversion to give the Cougars a 34-20 lead with 4:34 left in the game.
After the Cougars took over on downs with 3:49 left to play, the Eagles recovered a Cougar fumble at the Grayson County 45. Three plays later they were in the end zone following a halfback pass from Exton to Chance Egnor. The extra-point attempt was stopped to make it 34-26 with 2:29 left to play.
The Cougars were then able to move to a pair of first downs to run out the clock and preserve their win.