Middle-schoolers drop two at Hancock
by By Don Brown
Needing a win at Hancock County on Tuesday to keep their season alive, the eighth-grade Cougar football team suffered a 20-0 defeat that ended their season.
The seventh-graders needed a win to be able to host a GRVC playoff game, but gave up three unanswered Hancock touchdowns in a disappointing, 20-16 defeat.
With only a total of 32 minutes in a complete eighth-grade game, Hancock County had three scoring drives that consumed nearly 18 of those minutes, effectively keeping the ball out of Grayson County’s hands. Add to that a pair of Grayson County turnovers and it all led to a thorough whitewash.
Hancock County took the opening kickoff and moved 61 yards in nine plays, burning off more than five minutes on the clock. During the drive, Hancock converted on a fourth-and-one at the Cougar 41. Running back Gage Gray scored on a seven-yard run with 2:36 left in the first quarter to make it 6-0. A pass play on the conversion failed.
Following a three-and-out by Grayson County, Hancock took over the ball at the Cougar 41 with seconds remaining in the first period. They then went on another time-consuming, 11-play drive that ended with Tristan Cartwright hauling in a scoring pass from quarterback Jacob White with 1:54 left in the first half. Hancock fumbled the snap on the extra-point try, but took a 12-0 lead into the halftime intermission.
Grayson County had the ball to start the second half, but a second-down fumbled snap gave the ball to Hancock on the Cougar 41. Hancock then went on their final scoring drive, using 6:27 and 11 plays to score with 37 seconds left in the third period. Wide receiver Nole Arnstadt caught a three-yard touchdwon pass from White for the score. Tanner Singleton scored a two-pointer on another White pass to make it 20-0.
The fourth quarter was scoreless and featured back-to-back-to-back fumbles, first by the Cougars, then by Hancock and finally by the Cougars with a little more than three minutes remaining to be played.
The Cougars had the ball to start the game, but when they went three-asnd-out, were forced to punt the ball away. Hancock took over on its own 36-yard line, but on first down fumbled the ball. Johnny Vaughan covered the ball for the Cougars and they began their first scoring drive fron the Hancock 40.
A run on first down lost five yards, but Montgomery Smith gained it back on second down. Then on third-and-10, Smith got loose down the left sideline and carried 40 yards for the touchdown. Quarterback Spencer Sharp carried in for two points and with 2:15 left in the first period, the Cougars led 8-0.
Grayson County got the ball back on downs just before the end of the first quarter. They were able to move 52 yards in six plays to extend their lead. Smith carried in again, this time from six yards out, and when he added two points on the conversion, the Cougars held a 16-0 lead with 4:13 left in the first half.
That would turn out to be Grayson County final score of the evening. On the second play of the next Hancock possession, running back Cory Axton broke free on a 54-yard run to put his team on the board. A run on the conversion failed, but with 3:11 left it was 16-6.
The Cougars were forced to punt on their next possession and Hancock took over at mid-field. Six plays later they were in the end zone again, with Axton hauling in a 16-yard pass from quarterback Spencer Harpenau. A fumbled snap prevented them from converting, but with 10 seconds left in the first half, it was 16-12.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but as the fourth began, the Cougars had the ball on the Hancock side of the field, when one play turned the tide of the game.
The Cougars decided to go for it on a fourth-and-one play at the Hancock 41-yard line. Ryan Johnson took a hand off from Sharp and came around the right side. Johnson appeared to easily have the first down, having just to lower his head and drive forward at the 40. But instead, he tried to avoind the tackle and went back for a loss and Hancock took over at its own 41.
Hancock then took it 59 yards in just four plays, with Axton scoring his third touchdown on a 30-yard pass from Harpenau. Those two clicked again on the conversion try to give Hancock a 20-16 lead with 2:03 remaining to be played.
Grayson County had the ball for one last attempt to retake the lead, but defensive back A. J. Newton picked off a Sharp pass with 29 seconds left to seal the Hancock victory.
Reach at or 270-259-9623.
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