Death Valley Bowl: Early turnovers doom Pats as Somerset rolls

Published 12:55 pm Thursday, August 23, 2018

STANFORD — It didn’t take long for the Somerset High School football team to jump out in front of host Lincoln County Friday night, but it wasn’t on the heels of its offense.

The Briar Jumpers’ defense forced a fumble on the game’s third play and forced five more first-half turnovers on its way to trouncing the Patriots 41-0 in the first game of the 21st Annual PBK Bank/WPBK-FM Death Valley Bowl at Lincoln’s Death Valley Stadium.

“I told the kids that one of the keys to the game is we can’t beat ourselves and that’s what we did tonight,” said Lincoln coach Spencer Crutchfield, who was making his head coaching debut. “We moved the ball some, but you can’t have turnovers. That kills you when you have drive-killing plays.”

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The opening fumble came on the snap and Somerset lineman Landon Fields fell on the ball to set the Briar Jumpers on the Patriots’ 15-yard line. Three plays later, Jase Bruner capped off the short field with a 6-yard score and Christian Whitis followed with the first of his five point after kicks for the night.

Forty seconds later, Somerset, which is coached by former Patriot player and coach Robbie Lucas, was back in the end zone. Payton Ellison picked off quarterback Bryson Yaden on the third play of the Lincoln drive and returned the ball 33 yards for the score to make it 13-0.

Lincoln was driving toward midfield off a Yaden-to-Darius Napier pass play when the Somerset defense stripped the ball from Napier at the Pats’ 43. Five plays later, Bruner, who was Somerset’s MVP for the night, scored his second touchdown, carrying the ball in from the 12-yard line midway through the first quarter to make it 20-0.

The Briar Jumpers would be up 27-0 at the end of the first. Alex Ham recovered a fumble at the Lincoln 29 and quarterback Kaiya Sheron capped off the two-play drive with a 28-yard keeper.

Lincoln was forced to punt away its first drive of the second quarter, but the punt would not go well for the Patriots as Somerset blocked the Loren Melton punt and Trevor Lipscomb was there to scoop up the loose ball and run 25 yards to the goal line with 10:23 still to go in the second quarter.

The Patriots had held the Briar Jumpers on downs late in the second period and were looking to push in some points before the half only to be forced to punt again.

Unfortunately for Lincoln, Somerset was there to block the punt again. The Jumpers fielded the blocked punt at the Lincoln 11 and Sheron hit Madden for a 14-yard touchdown pass as the buzzer sounded on the first half.

The first-half ending touchdown resulted in a running clock and a much shorter second half, but the Patriots would not give up another score to the Briar Jumpers.

��We didn’t turn the ball over and put the defense in a bad position the second half,” said Crutchfield. “The first half we just kept putting the defense in a bad position. We flew around a little bit better the second half but a lot of that is, too, that those guys weren’t really trying to throw it on us.”

Neither team impressed with offensive stats, with Somerset finishing with just 191 yards total offense and Lincoln with 91 yards.

Bruner led Somerset’s ground game with 33 yards and two scores off five carries. Ethan Carman, Lincoln County’s MVP, and Darius Napier both finished with 23 yards on eight carries.

Sheron completed 6 of 14 pass attempts for 101 yards and a touchdown for the Briar Jumpers while Yaden completed nine of 14 attempts for 60 yards for the Patriots. Bruner had one catch for 50 yards for Somerset and Napier had four receptions for 26 yards for Lincoln.

“We’ve got a lot of stuff we’ve got to work on. That’s what I told the kids,” said Crutchfield, whose Patriots play Rockcastle County next Friday night. “The season’s still early. We’re going to get better and the kids understand that. We played a lot better the second half tonight. We’ve just got to keep building off that for next week.”

Defensively, Hunter Combs had nine tackles for Lincoln, two solos and seven assists, Nick Harris had eight tackles, two solos and six assists and Darius Napier had six tackles, three solos and three assists.

Death Valley Bowl
At Lincoln Co.

Somerset 27 14 0 0 – 41
Lincoln Co. 0 0 0 0 – 0

1st Qtr
Somerset: 9:36 – Jase Bruner 6-yard run (Christian Whitis kick).
Somerset: 8:56 – Payton Ellison 33-yard interception (Kick failed).
Somerset: 5:22 – Bruner 12-yard run (Whitis kick).
Somerset: 1:15 – Kaiya Sheron 28-yard run (Whitis kick).

2nd Qtr
Somerset: 10:22 – Trevor Lipscomb 25-yard return on blocked punt. (Whitis kick).
Somerset: :00 – Tate Madden 14-yard pass from Sheron (Whitis kick).

Game Stats
Rushing 18-90 21-31
Passing 6-14-0 9-14-1
Yards 101 60
Total Off./Yds. 28-178 35-91
First Downs 6 9
Penalties 5/35 8/60

Individual Stats
Jase Bruner: 5 carries, 33 yards, TD.
Kaiya Sheron: 6 carries, 36 yards, TD.
Tate Madden: 2 carries, 10 yards.
Mikey Garland: 3 carries, 9 yards.
Alex Ham: 2 carries, 2 yards.

Ethan Carman: 8 carries, 23 yards.
Darius Napier: 8 carries, 23 yards.
Dylan Burchfield: 1 carry, 2 yards.
Bryson Yaden: 3 carries, (-10) yards.
Team: 1 carry, (-7) yards.

Kaiya Sheron 6-14-0, 101 yards, TD; Alex Ham 0-0-0.
Jase Bruner – 1-50 yards; Carson Guthrie – 2-24; Chance Stayton – 2-11; Tate Madden – 1-14; Pancho Zaragoza – 1-2.

Bryson Yaden – 9-14-1, 60 yards.
Darius Napier – 4-26 yards; Nick Harris – 3-16; Justin Bryant – 1-14; Sawyer Carrier – 1-4.