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Senior night success

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Benson leads the way as Braves defeat district foe Jeffersontown 20-6

By Ryan Naus

Looking to make a little history, Grant County celebrated senior night with a win over district foe Jeffersontown 20-6.

With the win, the Braves earned their sixth win of the season, tying the mark they set last year. They also set a school record with two district wins in a season. With the win, the Braves secured the three seed in the district tournament, another first in the program’s history.

“It’s always good to win a big district game,” coach Mike Davis said. “It being senior night, it made it even more special. To win against a quality team gives us momentum into the rest of the season. We had never won a senior night since I’ve been here. It’s special. All of the hard work that we’ve put in paid off. This is a special group of players and I’m glad to see them accomplish so many of their goals.”

Grant County made it look easy on their first drive as they turned a poor kickoff into solid starting field position. Terrell Spray started the game off with back-to-back big runs. Rex Benson helped carry the load as he also broke off a big run on first down. Spray took the Braves into the red zone and Benson finished off the drive with a touchdown run into the end zone. After a missed extra point, the Braves led 6-0 without ever having to throw a pass.

As Jeffersontown looked to answer with their running game, the Braves stopped three straight runs and forced them to punt.

Unfortunately, Grant County had to punt on their next drive despite catches by Benson and Tyler Haar. Grant County’s defense responded by forcing a fumble on Jeffersontown’s next possession, which Justin Loomis recovered, but the Braves failed to take advantage as they also fumbled.

The wet and cold weather might have had an impact on the game as the fumbles kept coming. Cory Beach recovered another Charger fumble on their next drive. After both teams punted the ball, Grant County turned the ball over with another fumble, but Grant County’s defense tightened up in the red zone, as Darryl Hearn came away with a fumble recovery, keeping the Chargers out of the end zone.

However, that didn’t last long as another Braves fumble gave the ball back to Jeffersontown and they finally took advantage, evening the score at 6-6.

Grant County answered with a sustained drive, as quarterback Joe Soden made plays with his feet and his arm. Spray also got back into the action, keeping the ground game moving. Jeffersontown helped the Braves with an offsides penalty. As the rain started to come down again, Soden kept Grant County’s drive alive by scrambling and Benson broke off a big run to give the Braves a first down. Benson punched the ball in for his second score of the day and Soden scooted around the edge and into the end zone on the two-point conversion to give the Braves a 14-6 lead.

The Braves defense continued their strong play, keeping the Chargers out of the end zone as time ran out on the first half.

After both teams exchanged several punts to start the second half, Grant County once again relied on Spray and Benson to put points on the board, as Benson scored his third touchdown of the game, making it 20-6.

Grant County kept the ball out of the Chargers hands by pounding the ball on the ground to keep the clock running. The game ended with the Chargers desperate to make something happen and turning the ball over on downs.

“Grant football teams have to run the football,” Davis said. “We can control the clock and it’s demoralizing to a defense when they can’t stop the run. It’s a huge plus because it keeps our offense rolling and our defense off the field.”

“It was pretty fun,” Spray said. “It’s going to be one of the most memorable nights of my life because it’s the last home game of my career and my whole family was there. I had to have a big game because it was senior night. They came in needing a win, but we didn’t let them.”

“The juniors turned it up to make our senior night the best,” K.J. Little said. “It feels awesome because it’s another step towards history. I’m going to miss playing here. It was our last game on this field. There are a lot of memories we’ve made on this field.”

“I had two fumbles, but the team wouldn’t let me drop my head,” Benson said. “They kept opening up the running lanes and the coaches kept their faith in me. Hopefully the scores make up for the fumbles. We can’t be turning the ball over, especially into the playoffs. We can’t put our defense in bad positions.”

“We’ve been playing with these seniors since middle school,” junior Randy Salyers said. “We knew we had to step up to make their senior night special, like we want ours to be next year.”

Up next for the Braves is a long trip to Boyd County, but they want to keep their momentum and two-game winning streak alive as they also look towards the playoffs.

“The momentum of playing good ball will help,” Davis said. “We’ve got a long trip and we need to stay focused. They’re district champions. Both teams will be ready, but we need to keep playing like we have the past two weeks. They’re going to hit us, but we’ve got to hit back. We need to continue doing what we do and execute in order to beat them.”

“They’re going to be a good team to play, but we’re going to come out on top to continue making history,” Spray said.

“We want to keep the momentum going into the playoffs,” Little said.

“It will be a long trip, but if we have a good week of preparation, we’ll be able to keep our minds right, step off the bus, smack them in the mouth and come away with a win,” Salyers said.