• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Sports Editor

Jackets beat West Jessamine on senior night

When Woodford County High School senior Ben Nash stepped onto the field at Community Stadium for the final time Oct. 26, he couldn't imagine that he would score the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Nash picked up a loose ball with just a few minutes remaining in the game and ran the fumble back for a touchdown giving the Jackets a 12-6 lead. The Jackets held on and beat West Jessamine 14-12 on senior night. "It feels terrific to get out of here with a win on senior night," said Nash. "These guys are family to me; our record doesn't indicate how hard we worked this year and how much talent is on this team. I love my team." The Colts kicked an onside kick to begin the game and recovered the ball for the turnover. The Jackets could not stop the Colts on the opening drive, and the visitors pounded the ball up the middle and eventually scored on a 4-yard carry by junior Kane Lathery. The extra-point attempt was unsuccessful, and the Jackets trailed 6-0. After the Jackets recovered an onside kick, junior running back, Amartae Rice broke four tackles for a 13-yard gain. A few plays later, Rice broke free again for a 12-yard gain on fourth down and short. Facing their second fourth down of the drive, senior quarterback Leo Guadagni connected on a 20-yard touchdown pass to junior Skyelar Johnson. Sophomore Joey Whitehead's extra-point attempt was good, and the Jackets led 7-6 midway through the first quarter. The Jackets defense stepped up after the first drive of the game. Woodford routinely stopped the Colts for a loss of yards on the next few possessions. Freshman Jeremiah Shulze made a pair of tackles for losses, and sophomore JD Alexander continually pressured the quarterback. The score remained 7-6 into the fourth quarter. The Colts opened the fourth quarter with a pair of big gains and were inside the Woodford 20-yard line. The Jackets defense forced a field goal attempt from the 12-yard line, and the Colts' kick was short. The Jackets took over from their own 12-yard line with seven minutes remaining in the game. Rice began the drive with a 22-yard rush up the middle to give the Jackets some breathing room. The Jackets were then penalized for holding, and Guadagni was sacked to force a punt. Shulze pushed through the Colts' offensive line for a sack and Guadagni nearly intercepted a pass deep downfield. On the next play, Nash picked up a fumble and scored a 43-yard touchdown to increase the lead to 14-6 after Whitehead's extra-point. The Colts responded with a three-play touchdown drive to get within two points of tying the game. The two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful. Johnson recovered the onside kick with two minutes and 15 seconds to play. Rice gained a first down on a 13-yard carry with 75 seconds to play. The Jackets went into victory formation and ran out the clock and snapped a five game losing streak. "These seniors have been great to me, and I am so happy we could win this for them," said Johnson. "We have been through so much together, and they have been great team leaders for us." After the game, WCHS Coach Dennis Johnson said that all week he reminded the team that this week and this game was for the seniors. "I said we need to leave it all out for these guys," said Johnson. "This is a great group of young men who were my first group of freshmen. I can't say enough about the character and work ethic of our seniors. I am very proud of these kids." WCHS senior John Stork was injured during the game and was on the sidelines on crutches when the game ended. "When I got to high school, I was new to football, and Coach Johnson was a huge part of why I played," said Stork. "I went and met him, and he immediately motivated me. This who program has helped me grow as a person. Wins and losses can not define us. Being part of this group has allowed me to grow in ways that I did not know was possible."

The Jackets will travel to play at Covington Catholic Friday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the first round of the playoffs.

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