Mercer County buries Breckinridge County
Published 12:11 am Saturday, November 3, 2018
HARRODSBURG – First came the defense, and the offense soon followed. Then came the kind of game Mercer County hasn’t seen very much of this season.
The Titans had blown out a couple of opponents prior to Friday night, but they also had struggled to some of their opponents away in recent weeks.
That wasn’t a problem in the first round of the playoffs, however, as Mercer buried Breckinridge County in the first half and rolled to a 43-21 victory at Alvis Johnson Field.
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The Titans parlayed four turnovers into four touchdowns in less than four minutes in the second quarter to open a 36-0 lead and leave no doubt that they would advance to the second round of the Class 4A playoffs.
“It was big for us,” Mercer coach David Buchanan said. “It was good that we sort of got rolling.”
That was an area of concern for Mercer (5-6) in the second half of the regular season, as more than once the Titans had built a big lead in the first half only to see it nearly disappear in the second.
“We definitely need to work on it,” Mercer linebacker Jamason Sherrow said. “I think it’s very important that we just keep fighting throughout the whole game, not just the first quarter.”
The Titans took the fight to Breckinridge for most of the night. They yielded three touchdowns in the second half, but two of them came after Mercer’s lineup was largely populated by freshmen.
Breckinridge (4-7) didn’t get anything done on offense in the first half, thanks largely to the work of Mercer’s defense. The Fighting Tigers ran only 13 plays and got only one first down, which came courtesy of a Mercer penalty.
Both Buchanan and Sherrow said Mercer’s defense is becoming more physical, and they said that showed Friday as they advanced to a second-round game at Moore (10-1).
“Our defense is getting more physical the more games we play, and I think it’s really helping us,” Sherrow said.
Buchanan said the Titans did exactly what they needed to do to bottle up a Breckinridge team that averaged only 13.9 points and 197 yards per game.
“We had to be option sound, we had to do a good job of attacking up front, and our kids did that,” Buchanan said. “I thought we played pretty disciplined.”
The Titans outgained the Tigers 276 yards to 152, and a large portion of Breckinridge’s yards came in the second half.
Then there were the turnovers, which turned a game that Mercer merely controlled into one the Titans dominated. Here’s how the turnovers turned into points:
- Two plays after Mercer had taken a 15-0 lead, Sherrow recovered a fumble that led to a 14-yard touchdown run by Kaelin Drakeford on the very next play.
- Landon McGinnis recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and Brayden Dunn scored four plays later on a 24-yard run.
- Dillon Warren intercepted a pass on Breckinridge’s next play and returned it 37 yards to the Tigers’ 25, and Bryson Yeast scored three plays later from 4 yards out.
Mercer had scored 29 points in 3:52, triggering the running-clock rule with 4:04 to play in the second quarter. The Titans got one more turnover when Jackson Peavler recovered another fumbled kickoff, and they ran out the rest of the first half.
“This has got to be our best game as far as turnovers. We’ve struggled with turning it over and we’re not getting turnovers, but tonight we got some turnovers, and that really helped,” Buchanan said.
Mercer’s offense got 255 yards on the ground. Yeast led the way with 92 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries, scoring on runs of 18, 4 and 4 yards.
Malachi Yulee rushed 12 times for 58 yards and one touchdown. Drakeford and Dunn had four carries each for 39 and 33 yards, respectively, and each had a rushing TD.
Trevor Dyer scored all three touchdowns for Breckinridge, which ended its best season since 2000. Dyer had scoring runs of 4, 5 and 22 yards, and he led the Tigers with 61 yards on 11 carries.
Mercer will hit the road for the second round to face a Moore team that hasn’t allowed more than two touchdowns in any game in its current six-game winning streak.
“We’d rather be playing then sitting at home, so we’re all right with it,” Buchanan said. “Wherever we need to go play, as long as we’re playing we’re happy.”
Breckinridge County 0 0 7 14 – 21
Mercer County 7 29 0 7 – 36
Mercer – Bryson Yeast 18 run (Christina McClain kick), 4:02.
Mercer – Malachi Yulee 6 run (Brayden Dunn run), 7:56.
Mercer – Kaelin Drakeford 21 run (McClain kick), 6:58.
Mercer – Dunn 24 run (McClain kick), 5:07.
Mercer – Yeast 4 run (McClain kick), 4:04.
Breckinridge – Trevor Dyer 4 run (Bailey Caster kick), 4:27.
Mercer – Yeast 4 run (McClain kick), 11:52.
Breckinridge – Dyer 5 run (Caster kick), 8:51.
Breckinridge – Dyer 22 run (Caster kick), 3:30.