Lexington Christian Academy used a quick-strike offense and high-pressure defense to defeat district rival Somerset 28-21 in a battle between the top teams in Class 2A.
LCA QB Drew Nieves threw bombs on back-to-back first quarter possessions to give the Eagles a 14-0 lead mid-way through the first quarter. The touchdown drives came less than 2 minutes apart. The first was a 62-yard TD strike over the top to a wide-open Mason Moore with 6:45 remaining in the 1st
“We came out hot. We knew our game plan and were just executing on it,” said Nieves, who took a hard hit on the throw but stood tall in the pocket.
“That’s really important to get ahead of a great team like Somerset. It gave us momentum,” Moore said.
Nieves found Xavier Brown over the top for 48-yards on the next possession. Brown added a 6-yard TD run on the very next play.
Somerset was not able to put points on the board in the first half. Their best chance came early in the 2nd
quarter when they were first-and-goal at the 5. After a false-start, LCA defensive lineman Gabe Byrne made back-to-back tackles in the backfield to set up 3rd
and long. Elijah Hammond took over from there, deflecting a pass on third down and picking off Somerset QB Kaiya Sheron on 4th
down. The pick was not Sheron’s fault since he had little time to throw and smartly threw it up for grabs in the end-zone instead of taking a sack on 4th
Sheron, a 2021 UK commit, got Somerset rolling in the 2nd
half. He showed great poise in the pocket and floated in a perfect TD pass to Gavin Stevens on 4th
and goal from the 15 to cut the lead to 14-7 with 5:10 remaining in the 3rd
quarter. “We rolled out right and the middle linebacker shot the gap so I had to roll out back left and our wide receiver made a really good play, a smart play, to get back to the opposite side and watch me roll out, so he rolled out with me” Sheron said.
Somerset’s Mikey Garland recovered an LCA fumble on the Eagles’ 17-yard line to set up Sheron’s 2nd
score in just over a minute. This time, Sheron used his legs to run it in from 7 yards out on a bootleg. The 2-point conversion failed so the score was 14-13 LCA.
Somerset’s only lead came on another Sheron TD run early in the 4th
quarter, but it gave the crowd quite the scare. “I faked the pass and the middle linebacker jumped and missed the tackle, so I obviously had it wide open. I was on about the 3-yard line and dove and the kid’s helmet hit me in the knee, but doctors say it is just a bruise, so I’ll be alright in a few weeks,” Sheron said about his 27-yard TD run.
Somerset backup QB Josh Gross came off the bench to complete the 2-point conversion to Stevens to make it 21-14 Somerset with 10:03 remaining in the game.
However, it was déjà vu for Somerset, as they watched the Eagles repeat what they did in the first quarter. LCA used the same ingredients of Nieves-to-Moore passes and Xavier Brown runs to score another pair of TDs less than 2 minutes apart.
LCA tied the game after Nieves found Moore for a 42-yard pass to set up Brown’s 7-yard rushing TD with 8:39 remaining.
“The play was stretch left,” Brown said about the TD run. “I saw the defenders fall hard, so I just hit the cutback lane real hard.”
Sheron returned to the game but not did not appear to be 100% and was picked off by LCA freshman Parker Chaney on the next play, Chaney’s 2nd
interception on the night. He returned it from the 50 to the 36, setting up a short field for the Eagles. Nieves again found Moore for a touchdown, this one a perfectly thrown 32-yard toss right over the defender’s head to put the Eagles up 28-21.
“My quarterback threw a great ball, the o-line was holding them up really well. We all just stepped up this game,” Moore said. “Once we started to fall back, we picked ourselves up, and that’s the good thing about our team.”
Nieves finished 18-of-26 for 356 yards and 2 touchdowns. Moore caught 5 passes for 176 yards and 2 scores. Brown caught 5 passes for 80 yards and rushed for 58 yards and 2 scores. The trio is very difficult to stop.
“We don’t huddle. We just look at what they do and how they adjust to one and we figure out how to get it to the other one,” LCA head coach Doug Charles said. “We are blessed to have a lot of playmakers. Nieves does a good job of spreading the ball out to the people that need to get it.”
Somerset was not able to get much going the rest of the game, thanks to an LCA defense that brought constant pressure on Sheron and shut down the inside run all night. Mattie Lebryk, Anthony Johns, Bryne, Chaney, Hammond and a host of other Eagles had big nights on defense. Neal Dickey, the Eagles sack leader, missed the game with a sinus infection.
“We put some things in, we felt like they had a size advantage on us, but our quickness I think caused some problems for them tonight,” Charles said. “Because if you give Kaiya a little bit of time, he will make you look foolish.”
Sheron was 19-of-33 passing for 232 yards 1 TD and 3 interceptions. He rushed for 33 yards and 2 scores. Somerset’s Chris Doan ran for 58 yards and caught 4 passes for 40 yards. Both teams are 5-1.
Charles said the Eagles 40-6 loss to 5A power Frederick Douglass last week helped rally the team.
“It helped us with the speed of the game,” Charles said. “We were feeling good about ourselves. We were 4-0 and everyone was talking about how great we were. We had probably our best week of preparation. Our kids responded. They were dialed in to the game plan. I could tell when we went out, we were resilient. I could tell. Our guys, they expect to win. That is something that has not always been the case.”
Somerset lost to LCA in the regular season last year but went on to beat the Eagles in the 2nd
round of the playoffs, on their way to the Briar Jumpers first ever state title. It is very likely that these two teams will meet again at LCA in the 2nd
round of the state tournament. Like last year the winner will have the inside track to the state championship.
“At the end of the day, (tonight) is just another game in the journey to the state championship” Charles said. That’s our ultimate goal this year. We will likely have to see the same group. We will make adjustments and they will make adjustments.”
“It is a close game every time we play. We are both dogs. We are both good football teams. We will see what happens,” Moore said.
Can’t wait for the rematch!
High School Football Roundup
Ashland 41 Russell 7
The Ashland Tomcats demolished district rival Russell in surprisingly easy fashion. Ashland, ranked #13 in the KSR prep rankings, has now outscored opponents 189-35. Russell, who came in 5-0 and with a higher RPI than Ashland, couldn’t get anything going on offense. Mr. Football candidate Keontae Pittman had 153 yards and 3 TDs for the Tomcats. Ashland rolled up 354 yards on the ground, while holding Russell 49 yards on the ground and only 148 yards total.
Owensboro junior QB Gavin Wimsatt was 14-of-17 for 155 yards, 1 TD and 2 interception to lead the Red Devils to a 42-21 win over Graves County. The UK target added 40 yards on the ground for the Red Devils, who are 6-0 and ranked #14 in the KSR rankings.
Caden Veltkamp passed for 236 yards and 3 scores to help South Warren clinch home-field advantage through the first 2 rounds of the playoffs. The junior UK target was 18-for-32 with an INT in the Spartan’s 37-13 victory over Greenwood. 4-star safety Jantzen Dunn returned from an injury to play his first game for the Spartans. Dunn, an Ohio State commit, caught a 13-yard TD pass from Veltkamp at the first half horn.
Check out sights from the scene of Lexington Christian's victory over Somerset in Kroger's KSR Game of the Week.
Posted by Kentucky Sports Radio on Saturday, October 17, 2020