In Oct. 23-29 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Sports Editor
After a shocking 43-7 defeat at the hands of district rival Warren East a week earlier, Coach Bill Sharp said his Lakers (3-5, 1-2 in district play) should have never gotten off the bus ... they must have gotten the message as they went into Somerset last Friday and shocked the favored Briar Jumpers, 27-23, at Clark Field.
“Our kids got off the bus,” he said. “I think they were embarrassed about what happened the week before and wanted to change their perception.”
After a 16-0 Somerset run put them in front 23-14, Russell County would score two late touchdowns to put the Briar Jumpers away for good, a gritty second half turnaround that truly showed the heart of the Lakers and their senior class
On the first drive of the game the Lakers rushed 66 yards to the end zone to jump in front 7-0. Laker Landon Meece, who returned from a nagging shoulder injury, had 20-yard run to set up quarterback Bryon Ellis’ touchdown on a 24-yard option keeper for the score.
Somerset would answer with their own score as Derrick Jackson found paydirt soon after the Lakers.
The Laker offense then answered that score with an 80-yard drive culminated by a Jeron Hammond 5-yard touchdown scamper to give the Lakers a 14-7 lead.
After a Somerset field goal, Russell County drove the ball downfield to no avail as Ellis missed a 33-yard field goal attempt to end the opening half.
The Lakers led at halftime, 14-10. In the second half, the Briar Jumpers would score two quick touchdowns after the Lakers gave them good field position.
Somerset had built a 23-14 lead and the Lakers looked like they had run out of luck, until the Laker offensive unit took the field for an unbelievable 20 play drive capped when Ellis connected with senior fullback and fellow captain Chandler McGowan on a 29-yard pass near the goal line. Ellis would then take it in for the score just minutes later.
With the Briar Jumpers hanging on to a 23-20 lead and looking to put the Lakers out of reach once more, they embarked on a drive into Laker territory. Somerset would then fumble and the Lakers would recover.
Just two short plays later, Landon Meece found a seam and went 47 yards for the go-ahead score to put Russell County up 27-23.
Somerset failed to score on their last possession effort as they went four and out and gave the ball back to the Lakers.
The Lakers pounded away at the Briar Jumper defense until the clock struck zero, giving the Lakers and Coach Bill Sharp a much needed win.
Sharp said he was well pleased with the long drives the Lakers were able to produce in the second half, most notably two 12 play drives and a 17 play drive.
Ellis rushed 99 yards on 23 attempts while Meece had eight carries for 106 yards. Jeron Hammond had four big runs for 61 yards while McGowan carried nine times for 44 yards. Nathan Irvin had four carries for 27 yards while Chris Hammond had five carries for 16 yards.
Sharp noted how getting Meece back from injury was key.
“We don’t really have an one outstanding back but we do it by committee and spread it around,” Sharp said, as noted by the rushing numbers for the game.
He said his offensive line, anchored by center Bryce Bailey, held their own against the Somerset defense and executed their blocks much better than the week before.
Ellis also completed 14 of 18 passes for the Lakers for 178 yards.
Quinton Warriner had four catches for 57 yards while Meece had 31 yards receiving and McGowan had 57 yards receiving on two catches.
Jeron Hammond had 14 yards receiving while Taylor Hutchison had 11 yards receiving. Austin Hill caught one pass for eight yards.
The Lakers host district foe Allen County-Scottsville (5-2, 3-0 in district play) this Friday at 7 p.m. at Laker Field.
“It is good to be home after three straight on the road and we’ve told our kids that they need to represent our community well and defend our turf,” Sharp said.