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Big time players make big time plays and against Ludlow, Grant County looked like they had a roster full of them.
The Braves defeated Ludlow 55-14, scoring on both offense and defense.
“It was a nice win,” coach Mike Davis said. “It’s always good when the ball bounces your way. We had a lot of opportunities on both sides of the ball and on special teams. We took advantage of it.”
In the game, three school records were broken. The team scored eight touchdowns and 55 points. Placekicker Preston Cahill set a school record with seven extra points made, breaking a record set last year by Jonathan Cain in a game against Jeffersontown.
“Preston has shown a lot of moxie as a first-year kicker,” Davis said. “He doesn’t show fear. He’s got 18 extra points on the season and I’ve watched him grow and grow. He’s done quite well.”
“It feels amazing,” Cahill said. “I never thought it would be possible, but the team did a lot giving me the opportunities. I just did my job. I hope to keep having the same success for the rest of the year. It’s great to know your name will always be in the books for something you accomplished in high school.”
Grant County dominated from the opening kickoff, relying on a solid return by Dillon Pelfrey. After a Terrell Spray run, quarterback Joe Soden scrambled for a touchdown.
After a Panther punt, Grant County again moved the ball down the field before they faced third and long after a penalty. Buying time with his feet, Soden moved around the pocket before finding Justin Mertz for a touchdown to put the Braves up 14-0.
On their next drive, Ludlow tried to convert on fourth down, but Tyler Sheffield forced a fumble, giving Grant County the ball with good field position. A couple of plays later, Rex Benson finished the drive off with a flip over a Panther defender and into the end zone, giving Grant County a 21-0 lead with over six minutes left in the first quarter.
After Ludlow turned the ball over on downs, the Braves looked to increase their lead, but their drive ended with a missed field goal.
With time winding down in the first quarter, Ludlow was able to convert for a first down, their first of the game. But a sack by Tyler Sheffield and an interception by Corey Beach ended their drive. Beach was able to break loose, shaking a tackler and scoring to end the first quarter with Grant County up 28-0.
“It felt amazing,” Beach said. “I’ve never had that happen before. It was the best feeling.”
The second quarter started off better for the Panthers, as they were able to move down the field and scored on fourth down. They went for a two-point conversion and were successful, leaving the score at 28-8.
Grant County was forced to punt on their next drive and just as Ludlow looked to take a little momentum back, Sheffield and Beach struck again. Sheffield sacked the Ludlow quarterback and on the next play, Beach came up with another interception. The Braves took advantage of the field position, as Spray broke open a huge run to get Grant County down to Ludlow’s six-yard line. Dillon Pelfrey finished the drive off with a short touchdown run, making it 35-8.
K.J. Little did his part, sacking Ludlow’s quarterback and forcing a punt. The first half ended with a score of 35-8. Even with the huge lead, Davis and his coaching staff emphasized the importance of staying on top of the Panthers at halftime, looking to avoid a comeback.
After a Ludlow punt to start the second half, Mertz had a big punt return, giving Grant County good field position again. Benson ran the ball all the way to the goal line before Spray ended the drive with a touchdown run to put the score at 42-8.
Ludlow continued to struggle against the aggressive Braves’ defense. Pelfrey intercepted a pass after Spray deflected the ball and took it to the end zone, rambling 72 yards for the score. The point after attempt sailed wide, but the Braves still lead 48-8.
Grant County forced another turnover, as Little knocked the ball loose, giving Grant County the ball. Spray moved the ball down the field and Soden finished the drive off, strolling into the end zone untouched for a score of 55-8.
Grant County’s defense didn’t give up though, as Little had another sack and forced Ludlow to punt.
The fourth quarter started and with a huge lead, Davis was able to play his younger players for the rest of the game. They held their own with Ludlow, only giving up a late touchdown run for the final score of 55-14.
“It’s something we’ve told the players all year long,” Davis said. “If they come out and do what they’re supposed to do, nice things will happen. We put effort into all phases of the game for 48 minutes. Coming off the Oldham County game (which the Braves lost 49-22), I was disappointed in our defensive fundamentals. Against Ludlow, we put a lot of pressure on their quarterback, made solid tackles and made plays. Beach’s two interceptions are something I’ve preached to the defensive line on screen plays. Pelfrey finally had the chance to take one back and when he’s in the open field, he’s hard to catch. This defense is built to cause turnovers and helped our offense by giving them a short field all night.”
“We put 48 minutes together and it turned out well,” Benson said. “It’s good to have all three phases of the game working as we head into a big game this Friday. We just kept pounding away at them. We wouldn’t be satisfied until the clock hit zero and we had the win. We wanted to prove a point to give Jeffersontown something to think about.”
“We definitely did that,” Sheffield said. “It was satisfying to put it all together like that. When we were ahead, I was mostly thinking about the Scott High game (which the Braves won 26-20 after holding a 26-point lead at halftime). I didn’t want to give them any chance to comeback.”
Jeffersontown comes to Grant County for senior night
With a 0-2 record in district games, Grant County will look to beat Jeffersontown, their last district game of the regular season, at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 24.
Last season, the Braves traveled to Jeffersontown and came away with win, beating the Chargers 41-16.
“This game determines seeding and a possible runner-up position in the district,” Davis said. “They are very athletic and fast. They also have a new head coach who’s brought fire to his team. We have to stay focused, control the ball on offense and avoid the big play on defense.”
“I’m sure they are looking for revenge for last year’s loss,” Benson said. “But we have to put 48 minutes together. If we execute the game plan, we’ll come out on top.”
The game will also be senior night and the last time that Grant County’s seven seniors will play on their home field.
“It’s going to be emotional,” Benson said. “It’ll be our last game on the field we’ve been playing on since peewee football. It’ll be a big night.”
“We’re going to make the most of it in a big district game,” Beach said. “We’re going to go all out for a win.”