“If you play all 15 weeks (and make the state championship game), you play 15 weeks. That’s 15 nights out of 365 days you have to be ready to play. How hard is that? I don’t understand coming out and not playing like we did.”
Somerset (4-3, 1-0 Class AA, District 7) amassed 326 yards, and 301 came on the ground, to snap a two-game losing streak in the district opener for both teams. Danville (5-2, 0-1) was limited to 187 yards, and 80 yards came in the fourth quarter on the Admirals’ only scoring drive after the host Briar Jumpers had built a 23-0 lead.
Somerset dominated the game from the outset against the listless Admirals as quarterback Alex Lange, who ran for 181 yards on 17 carries, went 51 yards on a third-down quarterback sneak on the game’s third play to put the Jumpers ahead.
“How do you let a quarterback sneak go for 51 yards and a touchdown? Our linebackers were running outside. That told me right then we had no intensity,” Harp said.
Danville had the ball twice in Somerset territory, but each time lacked the big-play capability to get close to the end zone. The Jumpers started an 80-play, 11-yard drive late in the first period in which they overcame three penalties for 25 yards to score on fullback Tevin Slaughter’s 2-yard blast up the middle on fourth down to take a 13-0 lead.
The Admirals had chances late in the second quarter to get back in the game, but again lacked the big-play capability to do it. A 22-yard pass to Marcus Brown and a 26-yard run by Max Ray gave Danville a first down at the 18-yard line, but a penalty and three short gains preceded starting quarterback Tryston Ford slipping and falling on fourth down.
But Somerset gave the Admirals another chance when a high snap to Lange in punt formation resulted in a rushed punt that gave them the ball at the 27 with 10 seconds left. However, instead of scoring, the Admirals were fortunate not to give up a score when backup quarterback Devonta Alcorn flipped a pass into no man’s land when he was being sacked. Lange picked it off, got to the sideline and raced to the end zone, only to have the score wiped out by a clipping penalty 15 yards behind the play.
“We self-destructed the whole game,” Harp said. “We are beat up (physically), but that’s no excuse. People have got to step in and play. I am past the crap of this being a young team. We had six games under our belt. Being young is no excuse for playing this way.”
Storm Wilson’s 24-yard punt return set up Trevor Herd’s 32-yard field goal late in period three to extend Somerset’s lead to 16-0.
After Ray lost a fumble at the Somerset 33, the Jumpers drove 67 yards in 10 plays — and again overcame three penalties — to score on Lange’s 21-yard swing pass to Wilson. That was the only pass Somerset completed.
“They didn’t have to throw. They just ran over us,” Harp said. “That’s what disappointed me so much. We are better than this.”
Danville scored when Harp went back to Alcorn at quarterback. He completed passes of 12 and 45 yards to Marcus Brown, who had three catches for 79 yards, to set up Ford’s 6-yard scoring sprint.
Somerset, though, limited Ford to just 18 yards on six carries and held Danville to 116 yards rushing. Ray had 71 yards on 16 carries, but 44 yards came on two runs.
“Tryston never had a chance to make any plays because we got destroyed up front,” Harp said after the Admirals to Somerset for the third straight year.
The loss likely means the best Danville can now do is finish second in the district if it beats Middlesboro and Lexington Christian, which would likely give them only one home playoff game.