This article was written by Zack Klemme of the Daily Independent and shared by an agreed partnership.
MAYSVILLE — Greenup County held Mason County to seven points in the first half on Friday night.
But Class 3A’s fifth-highest-scoring offense didn’t stay stymied.
“We told them, we average 34 points a game, fellas,” Royals coach Joe Wynn said, actually undercutting his team’s average by two and a half points. “Most of the time, we do that in a half. So there’s no reason for us not to be able to come out here and just go.”
Mason County did that and more. The host Royals rattled off 20 unanswered points in the third quarter to rally from a one-score halftime hole to a 27-14 victory in the state quarterfinals.
Once Mason County got a lead, Terrell Henry protected it. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound defensive back ended each of the Musketeers’ last three possessions – two on picks and one on a stick, on fourth-and-1.
No wonder Wynn said he “will beat that drum until I fall” touting Henry as the best player in Class 3A, District 6.
“You saw what happened when you throw the ball against us,” Wynn said. “He’s a windshield wiper.”
Greenup County, needing to rally from two scores down with just over a quarter remaining, had to move at a pace and in a mode it doesn’t typically prefer.
“We’re a play-action team and (run-pass option) team. We are not a great drop-back pass team,” Musketeers coach Zack Moore said. “And you can’t be good at everything. That put us in a bad situation.”
Henry took advantage. He entered the game tied for first in Class 3A in interceptions with seven and ended it alone in that spot, adding two thefts to that total.
Henry returned the first pilfer to the Greenup County 30, setting up the Mason County touchdown that gave the Royals a two-score edge – Caden Clark Roberts’s 26-yard house call with 1:03 to go in the third frame.
And Henry made another interception in the end zone with 2:24 remaining, after which Mason County ran out the clock.
In between, he made a tackle to stall another Greenup County possession. The Musketeers, down two TDs, assembled a quintessential Greenup County drive, marching from their own 19 to the Royals’ 10-yard line, where they faced fourth-and-1.
The Musketeers’ top two backs weren’t available to tote it. Tyson Sammons, Class 3A’s seventh-leading rusher (129 yards per game), was playing but hobbled. Ike Henderson had come off the field a couple of plays earlier.
“Fourth-and-1, if Tyson Sammons is healthy, Tyson Sammons is running the ball,” Moore said, chuckling.
Greenup County’s Braxton Noble ran wide in search of the yard he needed. But a Royal got him around the legs and Henry finished him off with a hard hit.
“They were in their heavy set, so I saw him bounce outside,” Henry said. “One of my guys was able to trip him up, and I really wanted to make sure I was able to try to push him back as much as I could.”
Wynn was impressed with the physicality Henry displayed.
“Did you see Rell’s hit down there on that fourth-and-1?” Wynn asked a pair of reporters. “That was the game. I mean, God bless, right?”
Sammons ran for two touchdowns in the second quarter – a 33-yarder at the 9:04 mark and an 8-yard plunge with 31 seconds to go until intermission – to put the Musketeers up by a score at the break. He hit the line on fourth-and-1 on the first one and just kept going, and pushed the pile for the second score.
And Greenup County, having won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, was set to get the ball first coming out of the break.
But Mason County forced a three-and-out on the Musketeers’ first possession, and went on to score three times in the third frame.
Keshaun Thomas hit Isaac Marshall for a 23-yard score at the 5:38 mark of the third quarter, tying the game. A fourth-down defensive pass interference penalty that Moore didn’t particularly care for extended that drive.
Thomas then hooked up with Kristian Walton for his second TD, a 47-yarder, just over three minutes later.
Thomas threw for 137 yards and three scores. Greenup County sacked him three times in the first half, including on the final play before halftime, when Mason Sammons got to Thomas for a loss of a yard that allowed the clock to expire.
But Mason County’s pass protection stepped up in the second half, Wynn said, and Thomas did a better job throwing the ball quicker, both coaches noted.
Sammons rushed for 113 yards and two scores on 20 totes for Greenup County (8-5), which sought its first trip to the state semifinals in 45 years.
Moore announced intent in the preseason to step down when the season ended as he accepted the position of assistant principal.
2022 resulted in the Musketeers’ most wins since 1998 and first trip to the third round since 2007.
“It’s been great. It’s been fun. I hope that whomever the next person is, that they can build off this,” he said. “Of course I’m gonna be right there in the building, and they sure as (heck) better build off of of it, or I’m gonna be all over their (tail), I can tell you that.”
Brady Sanders ran for 112 yards and Chad Clark-Roberts chipped in 53 for the Royals (13-0), who set a single-season record for wins and advanced to the state semis for the first time since 2003.
Walton caught three passes for 81 yards, and Marshall netted 56 yards receiving.
Mason County’s coach picked up both a Wynn and a win the span of 48 hours. Wynn’s wife, Sammantha, gave birth to a daughter – the couple’s fourth child – on Thursday morning.
“It’s been a whirlwind, huh?” Wynn said. “I don’t want to say too much because I’ll cry.”
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GREENUP CO. 0 14 0 0 – 14
MASON CO. 0 7 20 0 – 27
GC – Tyson Sammons 33 run (Carson Wireman kick), 9:04
MC – Khristian Walton 14 pass from Keshuan Thomas (Austin Moreland kick), 3:2
GC – Sammons 8 run (Wireman kick), :31
MC – Isaac Marshall 23 pass from Thomas (Moreland kick), 5:38
MC – Walton 47 pass from Thomas (Moreland kick), 2:21
MC – Caden Clark-Roberts 26 run (kick blocked), 1:08
First Downs 13 16
Rushes-Yards 34-150 39-205
Comp-Att-Int 11-17-2 6-12-0
Passing Yards 87 137
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-0
Punts-Avg. 4-38.3 3-20.0
Penalties-Yards 6-70 6-40
Greenup County rushing: T. Sammons 20-113, Henderson 11-27, Wireman 1-10, Noble 2-0.
Mason County rushing: B. Sanders 13-112, Ch. Clark-Roberts 7-53, Ca. Clark-Roberts 3-28, Thomas 10-9, Walton 3-4, Team 3-(-1).
Greenup County passing: T. Sammons 11 of 17 for 87 yards, 2 interceptions.
Mason County passing: Thomas 6 of 12 for 137 yards.
Greenup County receiving: Wireman 4-43, Hunt 3-31, Howard 3-10, Henderson 1-3.
Mason County receiving: Walton 3-81, Marshall 3-56.