“That changed all of the momentum we had,” Danville coach Sam Harp said. “We made the plays up to that point, but didn’t make the plays we should have made after that.”
BySomerset coach Robbie Lucas agreed that Wilson’s return changed everything.
“It was the biggest play of the game,” Lucas said. “We had some big blocks, and Storm followed them perfectly down the sideline for the score.”
The Briar Jumpers (8-4) continued their three-year run of success against the Admirals (8-4) with their fourth consecutive win in the century-old series, and they advanced to face Lexington Christian in this week’s Region 4 final. The Admirals (8-4) saw their season end in the second round of the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.
Following Wilson’s return, the Admirals reached midfield and gambled on fourth-and-1, but the gamble failed when Ford was stopped for a 1-yard loss, and that led to Somerset’s next score.
Lange connected with Cam Cheuvront for 21 yards and then ran for 15 yards as Jumpers went 49 yards in eight plays and scored on Alex Lange’s 2-yard run to pull within 15-13.
“We knew we had to stop Ford if we were going to have a chance to win,” Lucas said. “He makes Danville stand out, and we knew we couldn’t let him beat us. We were fortunate to be able to shut him down.
When he gets going, he’s special. We are pretty good up front, though. They are probably the best group that I’ve had since I’ve been here.”
Somerset went on to score twice more thanks in part to the passing of Lange, who completed seven of 13 passes for 110 yards during the first half. He scored on a 2-yard run and passed to Wilson for a 17-yard score just before the half to give the Jumpers a 27-15 lead.
“We felt like coming in we would have to make them beat us with the pass, because they beat us with the run the first time we played,” Harp said. “But we got turned around in coverage a couple times, and then they made a couple nice catches.”
Last week the Admirals played in miserable field conditions and didn’t turn the ball over in their first-round win over Prestonsburg.
Somerset’s only score of the third quarter occurred when Danville fumbled on a double-reverse — one of five turnovers on the night for the Admirals. Lange scooped up the loose ball and ran 28 yards for a score that gave the Briar Jumpers a 34-15 advantage after three quarters.
“(Turnovers) have been our nemesis all year,” Harp said. “I think we were at minus-four coming into the game and added on to that tonight. You just can’t do that against good football teams and expect to win.”
Danville scored with 1:49 to play when Devonta Alcorn connected with Enrico Floyd from 10 yards out and Alcorn ran for the conversion.
The Admirals gained the upper hand early after the two teams swapped punts on their opening possession, reaching paydirt with an impressive nine-play, 69-yard drive that consumed just 2 minutes, 57 seconds. They gained four first downs behind the running of Tryston Ford, Max Ray and Olyjawan Ford and scored when Tryston Ford crashed over from 1 yard out.
Three plays later, Marcus Brown intercepted Lange’s pass at midfield and returned the theft to the Somerset 1-yard line. Ford scored on the next play, and after a Somerset penalty, the Admirals went for two and Max Ray ran for the conversion to give them a 15-0 advantage.
“Danville staggered us early,” Lucas said. “They came out and stuck it right down our throats and had us reeling, but the kickoff return gave us some momentum and we finally started to make some plays. We were able to take what they gave us and turn it into points.”
Despite the loss, Harp had praise for his team.
“We had to play some good competition early,” he said. “Garrard (County), Lincoln (County), Boyle (County), Frankfort, Corbin and Southwestern are all still playing. That’s a pretty daggone good schedule.