By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
Mistakes proved too much for Berea Community (1-4) to overcome in a 28-6 loss to Jackson County (2-3) Friday in the inaugural Battle of Big Hill Bowl.
The Pirates moved the ball up and down the field all night, only to see good drives stall because of untimely penalties, sacks or on numerous occasions, mishandled exchanges between the center and quarterback.
Berea amassed 308 total yards in the game, 235 through the air and 73 net yards on the ground. The Pirates actually rushed for 116 yards, but quarterback Kevin Reed was credited with -40 net yards after being sacked six times.
Junior Cory Mowery led the way with 65 yards rushing on nine carries, while Deondre Tate added 22 yards.
As it was last week, the Pirates’ passing game was sharp all night. Reed connected on 16-of-23 passes to eight different receivers while being harassed by the Generals swarming pass rush all night.
Sophomore Josh Lamb led the way with two catches for 51 yards, while four other receivers had more than 30 yards each; Tate (37), Andy Allen (35) and Mowery and Jacob Stamper (33).
But the mistakes changed the complexion of the game and they started early.
The Generals took a 6-0 lead mid-way through the first quarter
On the following drive, the Pirates methodically marched downfield to the Generals 22-yard line looking to tie the game. But a motion penalty on a fourth and four play stalled the drive and the Pirates turned the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass.
Berea coach Adam Coleman said the effects of that play seemed to linger over the remainder of the half.
“That fourth-down conversion down there deep would have put us right back in the ball game with them,” Coleman said. “I think we let that affect us. I know I let it affect me and we can’t focus on negative things like that and let them take us out of our game.”
Mistakes cost the Pirates on their other two possession of the first half.
After taking over possession on their own 42-yard line, the Pirates drove the ball once again inside the Generals 25-yard line. But a 13-yard loss on a bad snap, an ineligible receiver downfield penalty and a sack pushed the ball back over midfield and the Generals took over on downs.
After Jackson County scored on a 36-yard pass to go up 14-0, Berea drove the ball to the Generals 37-yard line, but a Reed pass was intercepted by the Generals and returned 52 yards for a touchdown to give Jackson County a 20-0 lead at the half.
Things didn’t get any better in the second half as Jackson County’s power running game began to run big chunks of time off the clock and the Pirates could not quit shooting themselves in the foot.
The Pirates finally managed to avoid the shutout with a touchdown inside the final two minutes of the game.
Reed connected with Allen for 35 yards, then hit Lamb flying down the right sideline for 33 yards and the score.
“Every time we would get the ball moving, then a penalty, bad snap or a big loss set us back,” Coleman said. “But we’ve got some things to build on, we’ve just got to keep our heads about us and not let it turn into a negative thing.”
Lamb was named the offensive player of the game for the Pirates, while Sam Shearer was selected as the defensive player of the game.
The Pirates return home next Friday to take on Ludlow at 7:30 p.m. on homecoming.