Sep. 3—LOUISA — Greenup County has gone from winless to excelling in winning situations.
The Musketeers put their new mentality to the test again in Louisa on Friday night by holding off another opponent and a potential game-altering moment in the final minutes.
Two weeks ago, Fleming County scored 26 straight points, but its comeback efforts were thwarted by a fake punt and a determined Greenup County team.
The Musketeers claimed a key takeaway midway through the final quarter against Lawrence County and turned it into seven quick points to take a late lead on the road.
The Bulldogs fumbled on the fourth-and-goal from the Greenup County 1 in the closing seconds and the Musketeers left Luke Varney Jr. Memorial Field with a 17-14 victory.
It was their third win in as many games to start to the 2022 season after a less-than-memorable campaign last year.
Greenup County coach Zack Moore said his team keeps taking a step forward and not a step back.
"There were opportunities where we could have ended it, but I am a firm believer that things happen the way they should," Moore said. "Just like the first week, I wished things would have ended a lot easier and we won by 30 points. But it was better for us that it ended the way it did. It made us gut it out and find a way to win.
"Tonight, we had chances to get off the field and end it earlier," he added. "It happened the way it should have. The kids stepped up there at the end and made a play."
Sophomore quarterback Tyson Sammons had guided his team to victories in a variety of ways. He's had big rushing nights. Sammons contributes to a defense that held the Bulldogs to 130 rushing yards.
"We knew that they were going to get some yards," Moore said. "They are too good a team. (Lawrence County) coach (Alan) Short and his staff do a good job too. We weren't going to just shut them down. We wanted to limit the explosive play and limit anything under 20 yards if we could. For the most part, we did OK."
After a Lawrence County fumble gave the ball back to the Musketeers near midfield, a long run by Ike Henderson set up the biggest passing play of the young season.
Sammons found Brady Howard in the flat for a short pass and the senior wideout followed his blocker into the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown with 7:48 remaining in the final quarter.
"This feels better than anything I've ever done playing football," Sammons said after the win. "I have been playing for 10 years now and this is the best that I've felt."
Sammons said that there was a time where he didn't feel comfortable in the pocket. Times have changed.
"During last season, any time we would call a pass play, I would get a little nervous," Sammons said. "I had no confidence in myself. I am really excited to throw it this season."
"We just try to make it easy for him," Moore added about Sammons. "It's the best you can do for any quarterback. Tyson is a really good player. He is studious. He studies football. He wants to know how to get better. He knows that it's one area that he has to improve in. We are by no means a prolific passing team, but I am glad we have been able to connect when we needed to in big moments."
Lawrence County (1-1) answered with a clock-consuming drive that needed one more yard to pull out a victory. A false start penalty moved it back five yards, but a tough run by Dylan Ferguson moved it back to its original location for fourth down with a minute left in the fourth frame.
The snap did not go as planned and the ball flew past the quarterback. The damage was done. Greenup County (3-0) regained possession and ran out the clock.
"Obviously, we are disappointed," Short said. "We felt like we squandered some opportunities, not just there (on the last play), but through the course of the game. That's life.
"We are disappointed with the end result, but we will come back Monday morning and get right back to work. Luckily, it's still a young season."
The Bulldogs kept the final drive alive with their passing game. Quarterback Talan Pollack delivered passes to Kaden Gillispie twice on fourth down to keep the possession moving.
"He and Kaden both made a couple of big plays on our last drive," Short said. "Talan is growing each week. He's not a finished product yet, but he keeps getting better."
Ferguson led Lawrence County with 74 rushing yards. He closed out the first quarter with a 1-yard TD run. Pollack did the same at the end of the first half.
Sammons scored on the Musketeers' first possession with a 19-yard touchdown sprint. Wireman added a 23-yard field goal.
"Coach Moore has done an excellent job," Short said. "I know their record wasn't what they wanted last year. It was still not a bad football team. Our game last year was 7-7 at the half. We knew they were very capable and a solid team."
Moore said the team will celebrate for a day, then prepare for next week as Greenup County eyes more success.
"I don't know how a kid could feel any better than being 3-0, especially when you didn't win one in the previous season," Moore said. "I said last week that we were 2-0 and we were happy about it. We are 3-0 and right now, we are going to enjoy it this weekend."
"I give all credit to our coaches," Sammons added. "They give us all the energy that we need."
GREENUP CO. 7 3 0 7 — 17
LAWRENCE CO. 6 8 0 0 — 14
GC—Tyson Sammons 1 run (Carson Wireman kick), 9:42
LC—Dylan Ferguson 1 run (kick failed), 1:10
GC—Wireman 23 field goal, 6:23
LC—Talan Pollock 1 run (Ferguson run), 1:03
GC—Brady Howard 23 pass from Sammons (Wireman kick), 7:18
First Downs 11 12
Rushes-Yards 30-148 37-130
Comp-Att-Int 7-12-0 4-8-0
Passing Yards 91 69
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-1
Punts-Avg. 3-31.0 2-17.0
Penalties-Yards 9-57 5-40
Greenup County rushing: Sammons 14-79, Henderson 8-67, Noble 5-6, Team 3-(-2).
Lawrence County rushing: Marcum 9-40, Ferguson 12-74, Crum 9-24, Pollock 2-2, Gillispie 1 (-5), Collinsworth 3-2, Team 2-(-10).
Greenup County passing: Sammons 7 of 12 for 91 yards.
Lawrence County passing: Pollock 4 of 8 for 69 yards.
Greenup County receiving: Clevenger 1 (-2), Griffith 1-6, Howard 4-34, Wireman 1-53.
Lawrence County receiving: Gillispie 4-69.
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