GLASGOW — Jason Esters, the head football coach at Barren County High School, just shook his head as he talked to the media Saturday night after the Trojans held off a furious Metcalfe County rally to claim a 19-13 victory in the opening game of the TJ Samson Bowl at Glasgow High School.
After jumping out to an early 19-0 advantage, the Trojans watched the Hornets outscore them 13-0 in the second half and be just 26 yards from the winning touchdown with 15 seconds left to go in the game. That’s when Trojan senior Cole Payne stepped up to put a nail in the Metcalfe County coffin with an interception of a Ty McMurtrey pass with only seconds to go.
“This defensive unit stepped up in the second half. I was high-fiving the defensive coaches,” said Esters. “We started off playing well in the first quarter tonight and I don’t know what happened. I was talking with (assistant) coach (Billy Joe) Murphy about it and I just don’t know what happened. I can’t wait to watch the film.”
Esters will be happy to watch parts of the film as the Trojans scored touchdowns on three of their first four possessions. Barren County took the opening kick 65 yards for a touchdown in just 2:00 as quarterback Andrew Hughes capped the drive with a 1-yard dive. Kaleb England’s extra point was good and the Trojans led 7-0.
After holding the Hornets on their next possession, the Trojans came back with a four-play, 59-yard scoring drive to go up 13-0 with 6:33 to go in the first period. Zach Sneed took the ball in from 1 yard out. England’s kick was no good.
The Trojans’ final score came in the second period when Barren County drove 43 yards for the touchdown. The Trojans got big yards on the ground from Wininger and Logan Rich. Hughes capped the drive with a 22-yard scoring pass to England. The kick was no good and the Trojans led 19-0 with 7:35 to go in the first half.
“It (rally) started for us in the second quarter. Barren County pushed us early and we acted like we weren’t ready to get off the football,” said Metcalfe County coach Freddie Harbison. “But after their second drive, and I know they scored again, but after the second drive it was a different game for us. We started getting some push up front. That made all the difference in the world.
“On their first score, we didn’t make a play in the end zone where we could have picked it off. On the second series, they scored. On the third touchdown, on fourth down, our senior safety stands there and doesn’t break on the football, and we don’t make a play. Right there, we could have gone in at halftime down 7-0.”
The Hornets got going midway through the third period when John Smith intercepted a Hughes’ pass and, coupled with a Barren County penalty, the Hornets had the ball on the Trojan 12. Four plays later, McMurtrey ran the ball in from the 1. Robbie Sanders made the extra point and with 7:39 remaining in the period, the Hornets cut the Trojan lead to 19-7.