Coming into the game as big underdogs, the Grayson County Cougar football team shocked Bullitt East’s Chargers in the early going before eventually succumbing 49-27 in the District semi-finals last Friday in Mt. Washington.
The game was much closer than the final score indicated, with some Grayson County turnovers leading to big plays for the Chargers that gave them a three-score advantage in the fourth quarter. The Cougars were in excellent position early in the fourth quarter to pull to within a touchdown of the lead but a lost fumble turned things around.
An excellent game was marred by some awful behavior by a bunch of rowdy, profane students who lined up behind one end zone and taunted, cursed and shouted insults at the Cougars from the start of the game. The game officials allowed this behavior to go on despite objections from the Cougar coaching staff and from some parents of Cougar players on the sidelines.
Finally, early in the third quarter, the referee had had enough and cleared the whole bunch away from the field and the game took center stage again.
Grayson County got a huge break at the start of the game when the Chargers fumbled on their first play from scrimmage. Grayson County covered the loose ball and were set up at their own 40-yard line.
The Cougars took advantage by calling a trick play on first down. Quarterback Talon Gary pitched the ball to running back Dylan Woodcock who took the ball around the right side. When all the Charger defenders came up to cover the run, Woodcock pulled up a heaved the ball down field to a wide-open Trey Waltermire.
Waltermire was probably 25-yards behind the nearest defender, but had to hold up as the ball was a bit under-thrown. Still, Waltermire was able to take it into the end zone for a touchdown with just 14 seconds having been run off the clock. Jonathan Reynolds added the extra-point to put Grayson County on top 7-0.
The Chargers responded by doing what head coach Ed Smart said before the game that he expected them to do… run the ball straight at the Cougars. Bullitt East used more than six minutes and 12 plays to move 63 yards for the tying touchdown. Cruise Coulter scored at the 5:38 mark on a 20-yard, third-down toss from quarterback Pierce Kelly.
The score stayed that way until the second quarter. The Cougar defense forced a Charger punt and took over at their own 25-yard line with 8:31 left in the first half. On first down, the Cougars took advantage of a defensive set-up they had noticed in the early going. Gary took the snap and literally popped through an opening in the Charger line and raced untouched 75 yards for another score to make it 14-7.
The Chargers answered right back, moving 48 yards in eight plays to tie things at 14-14. Brandon Samuels scored from a yard out with 5:10 left in the half.
The Cougars then hurt themselves with the first of two costly turnovers. On first down following the kickoff, the Cougars fumbled the ball and the Chargers covered it at the Cougar 25. Two plays later Austin Colvin carried in from five yards out to make it 21-14 with 4:30 left.
After the Cougars were forced to punt, the Chargers took over at their own 39 with 2:51 left in the first half. After moving into Cougar territory, the Chargers converted a fourth-and-nine play from the 39 yard-line when Kelly threw a backward pass which hopped off the ground to Colvin, who then threw to Trent Meredith for a first down at the 11 with a little more than a minute left.
Four plays later Samuels carried in from a yard out with just 13 seconds showing on the clock to make it 28-14 at the half.
The Cougars made it a one-possession game as they took the second-half kickoff and moved 65 yards for another touchdown. Gary had a 33-yard run during the drive that took the ball into Charger territory at the 28. Gary later scored from seven yards out with 8:47 left in the period.
Reynolds missed the extra-point, but when the Chargers were flagged for roughing the kicker, the Cougars decided to try for two points. The Chargers stopped a run, keeping the score at 28-20.
The Chargers answered right back, moving 63 yards in six plays to regain a two score lead, 35-20 with 5:37 remaining. Kelly carried in from the 15 for the touchdown. It was during this drive that the officials moved the Bullitt East hooligans off the end-line.
On the ensuing Bullitt East kickoff, the Cougars were backed up to their own 12-yard line, but they began another drive that looked as though it was going to close the gap. Grayson County converted on fourth-and-three at their own 33-yard line, then picked up another first down following a facemask penalty that moved the ball to the Charger 31.
It appeared the drive was going to end when Gary threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-eight at the 29, but the Chargers were whistled for interference on the play, giving the Cougar a first down at the 14.
A nine-yard run by Lane Rackley gave the Cougars a first down at the two, Gary gained a yard on first down, but on second down the Cougars fumbled the ball away again. The Chargers picked up the loose ball and returned it to the Cougar 35.
East gained three yards on first down, but on second down, Colvin ran through a hole in the middle of the Cougar line and went 62 yards unchecked to put his team ahead 42-20.
The Cougars came right back to score on their next possession, but the 14-point turn-around proved to be too much to overcome. Gary scored his third touchdown of the night with 5:26 left to play and Reynolds’ kick made it 42-27.
The Cougars gave up a 50-yard run to Chad Caldwell that set up the Chargers at the Cougar 10 and four plays later Caldwell carried in from the three to make the final score 49-27.
Grayson County ends its season at 5-7, while the Chargers improved to 11-1. They will travel to John Hardin this coming Friday to face the Bulldogs for the District championship.