Playing for home-field advantage in their first post-season game, the Grayson County Cougars came up a point short as they dropped their first football game of the season, 22-21 at Jeffersontown High School last Friday evening.
After going into the fourth quarter with a 21-14 lead, the Cougars (7-1, 2-1 District) gave up a touchdown with just under nine minutes left in the game, then the Chargers (5-3, 2-1) completed a two-point conversion on the extra-point try to take the lead at 22-21.
The Cougars responded with a time-consuming drive, looking for the points that would give them the win. The Cougars drove to the Charger 14-yard line with under a minute to play, and set up for a 31-yard field goal that would give them the win. But a J-town defender was able to break through and knock away the Michael Thomas kick that was destined to split the uprights for the game-winner.
The Cougars had the ball at the start and charged out of the gate getting big runs from senior Dalton Logsdon on their first two plays from scrimmage. But on the next play, senior Dustin Crain lost the handle on the ball and J-town recovered the fumble at their own 40-yard line.
The Chargers quickly moved 60 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead. Quarterback Kendrick Gardner scored from two yards out with 8:08 showing on the clock.
Sophomore Lane Rackley later returned the favor, recovering a Charger fumble at the J-town 39-yard line to set up the Cougars’ first score.
As the first quarter ended, the Cougars were penalized on an illegal procedure penalty, and as the second quarter began, faced a fourth-and-13 at the Charger 23-yard line.
On the first play of the second quarter, quarterback Talon Gary found senior Braxton Williams in the end zone for the first Cougar touchdown. Thomas added the extra point, and the scored was tied 7-7 with 11:54 left in the first half.
On the ensuing Charger possession, they regained the lead in just three plays. Taking over at their own 33, the Chargers gained 30 yards on first down on a Richard Deloney run. Deloney had no gain on another run, but on second down, Gardner hit Jawayne Rose in the end-zone for a 37-yard pass completion to give the Chargers a 14-7 lead, and the score stayed that way until half-time.
Late in the third quarter, junior Tyler Jacobs pounced on a Charger fumble, giving the Cougars possession at their own 46. Three plays later, Dalton Logsdon broke through a gaping hole and blasted 32 yards for the tying touchdown.
Grayson County got another big break on the ensuing kickoff when Rackley’s squib-kick was mishandled by J-town’s Greg Philpot. Senior Ty Davis covered the loose ball and the Cougars were in business at the Charger 40.
Logsdon gained nine yards on first down before Crain broke free and raced 31 yards for another Grayson County score, giving the Cougars 14 points in just 1:22. Thomas added the extra point and with 1:59 left in the third period, the Cougars led 21-14.
As the fourth quarter began, the Chargers faced a second-and-10 at the Cougar 38. Grayson County’s pass rush seemed to have Deloney, who had taken over at quarterback at the start of the second half, trapped behind the line of scrimmage for a big loss. But Deloney somehow escaped and scrambled to a first down at the Cougarn 26.
That was the first of several pivotal plays that eventually added up to a Cougar loss. Deloney later passed 13 yards to Rose for the final touchdown of the game. The second pivotal play ensued as Mikal Howard ran in a two-point conversion to give the Chargers a one-point lead, 22-21 with 8:58 left to play.
Grayson County took over at their own 24-yard line with8:55 remaining to be played. Their aim was to march 76 yards for the go-ahead score, while eating up the clock in the process.
To that end, the Cougars were able to move down the field, converting a fourth-and-two at the Charger 25-yard line on the way.
With 2:32 left to play, the Cougars picked up a first down at the Charger 12, but three running plays lost two yards. On fourth down, and with just 53 seconds left in the game, the Cougars brought in Thomas to try a 31-yard field goal to give them the win.
Kicking from the right hash-mark, Thomas had plenty of leg on the kick and had it perfectly on line, but a Charger defender stuck up his hand at the line of scrimmage and batted the ball down.
From there, the Chargers were able to run out the clock and hold on for the win.
Grayson County will host the highly-regarded John Hardin Bulldogs this coming Friday at Cougar Field. Game time is set fro 6:30 p.m.