By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Pirates were their own worst enemy Friday night in a 22-12 loss to Nicholas County.
Berea turned the ball over three times on fumbles, one on the opening possession and another that killed a second-half drive deep in BlueJacket territory that could have tied the game.
Two other fumbles the Pirates recovered themselves, but the miscues continually stalled potential drives.
But, Berea coach Adam Coleman said he didn’t think his team was mentally ready at the start of the game.
“I’m not going to make any excuses. It was a sloppy game. I didn’t think we executed our gameplan like we should have,” Coleman said. “I didn’t feel like we came out with an intensity to play. We just didn’t come out an execute tonight.”
Things started going south for the Pirates early when they fumbled away the opening kickoff.
The defense held Nicholas County out of the endzone, but on the Bluejackets next possession, quarterback Ben Duncan hit Aaron Conyers with a 22-yard touchdown pass to give the visitors a 6-0 lead.
Duncan and Conyers hooked up again in the second quarter, this time from 20 yards out to extend the Bluejackets lead to 14-0.
Although the Pirates defense played well at times, Nicholas County seemed to come up with a big play on third down every time it needed one.
“Our defense made some good plays, but we had some stupid penalties and we blew coverages and didn’t make sure tackles,” Coleman said. “We were giving up three or four yards sometimes on rushes where we should have been getting some stops at the line of scrimmage and that’s disappointing.”
Berea cut into the Bluejacket lead just before halftime.
Sophomore Deondre Tate took a Nicholas County punt on his own 28-yard line, broke to the outside, then broke five tackles along the sideline on his way to a 72-yard touchdown that pulled the Pirates to within 14-6 with less than two minutes left in the half.
That momentum carried over into the second half when the Pirates recovered a Nicholas County fumble on the opening kickoff deep in BlueJacket territory.
It looked like the Pirates were on their way to the tying score, but the BlueJackets recovered a Cory Mowery fumble at the 18-yard-line to kill the drive.
After forcing the Bluejackets to punt, Berea once again had good field possession, but the Pirates fumbled the ball on consecutive plays, losing the second one, setting Nicholas County up with good field possession.
Two plays later, Duncan hit Isaac Sosby from 12-yards out to extend the Bluejacket lead to 20-6. The two-point conversion made it 22-6.
But once again, the Pirates showed that they still had some fight left in them.
After an incomplete pass, junior Jason Strong broke free for a 65-yard run, weaving his way through the Nicholas County defense, for a touchdown to pull the Pirates back to within 22-12.
But that was as close as the Pirates could get the rest of the way.
On the night, the Pirates finished with 146 yards of total offense — 110 on the ground and 36 through the air.
Strong led the way with 71 yards on four carries, while Mowery finished with 32 yards on six carries.
Quarterback Kevin Reed was four-of-11 through the air for 36 yards and one interception.
Four different receivers had catches in the game. Strong hauled in a pass for 16 yards, Tate had one catch for six yards, C.J. Isaacs had a catch for five yards and Jacob Stamper had one for nine yards.
Nicholas County had 259 yards of total offense. The Bluejackets had 126 yards on the ground on 36 carries and 133 yards through the air.
The Pirates travel to Bardstown next week to take on Bethlehem at 7:30 p.m.