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The Spencer County Middle School Grizzlies saw their season come to an end Saturday afternoon, but they didn’t go down easy.
Playing in the second round of the Kentucky Middle School State Playoffs, the Grizzlies squared off against Knight Middle School of Jefferson County at Fern Creek High School. It was a matchup between two talented offenses and an early Grizzly mistake proved costly.
After taking possession nearly midfield after the opening kickoff, Spencer County promptly fumbled on the first play, and the Bobcats were quick to take advantage of the mistake, scoring just a few plays later on an 11-yard run. Their successful two-point conversion made it 8-0.
Spencer County would prove to be more careful with the ball on their next possession, driving down the field and scoring early in the second quarter when quarterback Daniel Wheeler hit Andrew Lawson for a pass in the end zone. The two-point conversion failed and the Grizzlies trailed 8-6.
The Bobcats countered quickly, scoring just a few plays later and again making good on their two-point conversion, taking a 16-6 lead.
Spencer County tried to keep pace however, taking the ball at their own 31 and then getting another score when Austin Ashley raced down the sideline 69 yards for a touchdown midway through the second quarter. Again, the two-point conversion failed, and the Grizzlies trailed 16-12.
Just before the end of the half, the Bobcats would strike again however on a touchdown pass and the two-point conversion put Knight up 24-12.
Things looked grim opening the second half as Knight returned the kickoff all the way for another touchdown. Again they converted the two-point conversion and the Bobcats seemed in control at 32-12.
However, Spencer County refused to give up. The defense forced a fumble deep in Bobcat territory. After a couple of plays backed them up, facing a third down and 23 yards to go, Wheeler lofted a 25-yard touchdown pass to Ashley. They again failed on their conversion, but the score was tightened at 32-18 to begin the final quarter.
Spencer County’s defense was able to stop Knight from scoring again and they got the ball back with time ticking down. A big run by Ashley put the Bears in scoring position again. Facing a fourth and goal at the 7-yard-line, Wheeler rolled out and was forced out of the pocket. He was able to race to the corner, stretch the ball out and dive across the goal line for the touchdown.
This time, the Bears made good on their two-point conversion and the gap was closed to 32-26 with just 51 seconds remaining.
The Bears had to attempt an onside kick in a last-ditch effort to get the ball back, and it nearly worked. However, Knight was able to recover and then simply ran the clock out.