Two weeks ago, the Harrison County Thorobreds were shocked in their regular season finale by West Jessamine 26-23, in a game that most had chalked up as a sure win.
Most people, but not Harrison County coach Aaron Stepp.
“I knew that West Jessamine was good enough to beat us then, but our players didn’t believe it,” said Stepp this past Monday. “They learned the hard way that the coaches were right and were bound and determined not to let it happen again.”
If that loss two weeks ago served as a wake-up call to the Thorobreds, the Colts probably wish they had never roused the sleeping giant.
On Friday night at Ingles Stadium, Harrison County blocked, tackled and ran all over West Jessamine, opening up a 35-0 lead and cruising to a 42-13 victory in the opening round of the Class AAAA football playoffs.
In the loss two weeks ago to the Colts, the Breds opened with their spread offense and found little success throwing the ball. On Friday night, Harrison Count threw just two passes all night and pummeled the Colts with a power running game.
“We felt like playing a little mountain, smash-mouth football was to our advantage,” said Stepp. “I’ve heard through the grapevine that some folks felt like I lost that first game to them on purpose, which is totally untrue. I have never gone into any game with the idea of losing and never will. I will say that we had a few more bullets in our gun that we didn’t show them the first time we played, though.”
Those bullets included a heavy dose of Aaron Newby, Steven Neal, Van Isaac, Josh Moss and Chase Johnson running the ball out of a wishbone set.
For the game, Harrison County rushed 42 times for 247 yards and completed one of two passes for 41 yards. Newby ran for a season-high 162 yards on just 12 carries, Neal rushed nine times for 88 yards, Isaac ran 10 times for 33 yards and two TDs, Johnson bulled his way to 37 yards on just four carries and Moss gained 27 yards on seven carries.
Harrison County wasted little time getting on the scoreboard. Steven Neal bolted 42 yards on the Breds third play from scrimmage to give Harrison County a 7-0 lead.
After a West Jessamine punt pinned the Breds on their own five yard line, Newby struck. The senior running back broke free on a second-and-11 from the four yard line for an 86-yard run. He was brought down from behind on the West Jessamine nine yard line, but Isaac scored on the next play to make it 14-0.
“That run, and the touchdown that came after it, might have been the turning point in the game,” said Stepp. “It kind of broke their backs at a time when they felt like they were in good shape. If we turn the ball over there, or if we are forced to punt, they have great field position and would be in position to tie the game, instead we score and take a 14-0 lead.”
Harrison County had a chance to completely break the Colts spirit right after that, but fumbled the ball away. After forcing a three-and-out, the Breds took over on the West Jessamine 25 yard line, but Josh Moss lost the ball on a fumble and the Colts recovered.
After another Colts punt, Harrison County did score that third touchdown early in the second quarter. Moss redeemed himself and tallied on a six-yard run to culminate a 45-yard, nine-play drive.