Boyd County’s football team saw it coming.
The Lions saw Mason County junior quarterback Jake O’Mara stare at wide receiver Ryan Johnson on what appeared to be a screen pass late in the second quarter of Friday’s game. Problem was, O’Mara found senior Carson Fearis behind everyone, and the 80-yard score helped the Royals beat the Lions, 34-16.
O’Mara didn’t remember the pass to Fearis at first. “It’s a fake screen,” he said. “Carson just got out, got open into the field; I just threw it up and let him run under it.”
To Boyd County coach John Gilliam, O’Mara-to-Fearis was one of several major miscues.
“We were in Cover-4, and we let (Fearis) run out by us,” he said.
Gilliam also thought his team played better than last week’s 56-15 loss at Lawrence County, but he added that not having as many players didn’t help.
“We didn’t have enough power to stay with (Mason County),” Gilliam said. “We kind of died out there at the end a little bit. I think all of our kids responded a little bit better. We made some mistakes, we gave up a couple big plays.”
Mason County won its first opening game in four years.
“It means a lot to me, but being an old coach, you sort of know whatever happens, we’ve got to strap it on Monday win or lose,” Mason County coach David Buchanan said.
There were at least four Boyd County highlights: Senior Jason Smith ran for 60 yards and recovered a fumble; quarterback Billy McCoy’s 1-yard plunge put the Lions up, 7-0, a little more than three minutes into the game; junior Zane Purcelley intercepted a pass; and freshman Christian Braly’s 65-yard touchdown run on the final play ended the scoring.
Unfortunately for the Lions, there was plenty of Royal pain: O’Mara threw for 164 yards and two touchdowns; the Royals’ defense held the Lions to just 75 passing yards; and the offense gained 233 yards to Boyd County’s 171.
You could call Mason County’s opening play inauspicious — the Royals’ Jaylin Jones lost a fumble. McCoy’s run was a play in which he was stopped over center but scored over left guard.
Boyd County (0-2) held Mason County to just 35 rushing yards for the first half. Way different story in passing: O’Mara was 4-of-5 for 135 yards and two touchdowns.
The footballs flew early. O’Mara and Cameron Frame hooked up for 50 yards, followed by the first score, a 23-yarder to Johnson.
Another way to describe large portions of the opening 24 minutes was sloppy. Both the Lions and Royals Mason received 40 yards of penalties (Boyd County had 65 for the game, while Mason County had 72).
Boyd County (0-1) had scoring chances — two drives inside Mason County’s 20-yard line over the final 3:03 — but neither materialized. The Royals Ashton Humphrey blocked a Chris Bruner first 27-yard field goal try, and Bruner shanked the second wide right with one second to go.
Bruner later a 44-yard field goal with 33 second left in the third quarter.
Mason County (1-0) outscored the Lions, 21-9, in the second half. The Royals’ Rico Hill scored on a 31-yard run, Jones’ 31-yard run a little more than three minutes into the fourth quarter made it 27-10, and backup quarterback Bradley Boone hit Chris Dunaway with a 10-yard touchdown with 1:36 left in the game.
Boyd County hosts Raceland (a 35-34 loser to Ashland last night) next Friday. Gilliam sounded hopeful last night.
“We’re learning, we’re young,” Gilliam said. “We’ll get better.”