Faulkner, Mercer County roar past East Jessamine
Published 11:28 pm Friday, November 10, 2017
By BRIAN RICKERD
NICHOLASVILLE — Mercer County senior Trevon Faulkner scored five touchdowns, and the visiting Titans took advantage of four East Jessamine turnovers in a 46-21 thrashing of the host Jaguars Friday night in the second round of the Class 4A state football playoffs.
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The Titans take a 7-5 record into a regional final matchup Friday at Collins in Shelbyville.
Faulkner put his stamp on Friday’s game with touchdown runs of 35- and 26-yards to give the Titans an early 14-0 lead.
Then, after the Jaguars (7-5) came back to tie it, 14-14, at halftime, Mercer County kicked East in the gut in the early stages of the third quarter.
The Titans forced three East Jessamine turnovers in the first 5:51 of the third quarter, including two on kickoffs, on their way to a 26-point period.
That put Mercer up 40-14 and took all the cold air out of the East Jessamine sails.
Faulker and senior quarterback Gunnar Gillis hooked up for three touchdowns in the third period, notching scoring strikes of 12-, 42- and 69-yards.
Senior Jackson Lewis had the other two Mercer touchdowns in the game, on a 16-yard pass from Gillis and a 14-yard run early in the fourth quarter that extended the MCHS lead to 46-14.
“We always say there’s three keys to winning – turnovers, special teams and big plays,” said Mercer County coach David Buchanan. “We struggled tonight on special teams, but we definitely won the turnover
battle and we won on big plays.
“I thought we played our best football game tonight,” Buchanan added. “We definitely played a great defensive game.”
Indeed, the Mercer defense limited the ground and pound East offense to some 185 yards of total offense.
The Jaguars three scores came on a 52-yard run by senior back Storm Wilson, a 9-yard run by senior Yamar Woods, and a late, one-yard plunge by senior back Emanuel Sharp that closed out the scoring with
two minutes left in the game.
East coach Mike Bowlin said the Titans controlled the game up front. Still, he said his own team’s turnovers were the key to the Jaguars’ downfall.
“We gave up three touchdowns in five minutes and 51 seconds … that’ll beat the Patriots,” Bowlin said. “You can’t turn the ball over. We talk about it all the time — the most important thing in football is the football.
“It was just some fluke plays,” Bowlin said of his team’s miscues. “They popped one (fumble) out on us; they picked up one we just couldn’t get a hand on, and then we threw an interception. We just picked a bad night to play terrible.”
And the Jaguars picked a bad night to find a red-hot Faulkner, who also forced two of the EJHS turnovers.
“I keep saying it, I think Trevon is the best free safety in the state,” Buchanan said. “And tonight he was big on offense, too.”
Faulkner said he didn’t remember the last time he scored five touchdowns, and he declined to take credit.
“I just give all the credit to my teammates and to God for giving me the opportunity to do what I did today,” said Faulkner, who signed to play basketball at Northern Kentucky University this week. “This feels good, but credit to my teammates for blocking for me and to the coaches.
“We had a great week of practice,” Faulkner added. “We prepared well, and we were focused. We knew we’d come out and do what we did today.”
The result left Buchanan elated and optimistic as his Titans move on to the state quarterfinal Friday at Collins.
Buchanan said some close games throughout an injury-filled season have his team battle tested.
“We had to fight and scrape to get here, so in these tough November games, we feel at home,” Buchanan said. “That’s what we’re used to.”