Taylor County opened district play Friday night with a thrilling 45-42 victory over Somerset.
Chris Thomas took the handoff on the Cardinals' first play from scrimmage for 73 yards and a touchdown. That would be the only score of the first period as Justin Hoosier and Cody Van Meter helped contain the Briar Jumper attack.
Taylor County struck twice in the second quarter as Lance Turpin found senior Michael Coulter for 25 yards and Leonard Macon intercepted a Scott Spears pass and returned it to the one-foot line where Turpin would finish the deal with a keeper and the Cardinals led 18-0.
Somerset answered before half-time, going 60 yards in five plays with sophomore tailback Derrick Jackson carrying four times on the drive for 56 yards and Jordan Coleman punching it in from four yards. The Cardinals had a 10-play drive end on an interception late in the quarter to set the intermission score at 18-7.
Both offenses found their rhythm in the second half and posted a combined 62 points.
Somerset controlled the third period, scoring on drives of 68 and 61 yards and had another drive stall after gaining 41 yards. The senior Spears guided the wide-open attack by throwing for 308 yards on 14-25 with two interceptions on the night.
The fourth quarter proved to be an old-fashioned shootout as the teams traded scores.
Thomas turned in a 26-carry, 295-yard performance and shined in the fourth period as he put up scoring runs of 30, 27 and 40 yards to keep Somerset at bay.
Spears and his favorite target, J.P. Henderlight, kept the Briar Jumpers in range as they connected twice in the period.
The Cardinal special teams and defensive unit turned in a key play late in the quarter as they blocked a potential game-tying 41-yard field goal attempt and managed to stop the holder from advancing for a first down.
After a Thomas first down run, Macon went 75 yards to give the Cardinals a 10-point advantage with 1:29 remaining.
Somerset struck quickly, using three plays and 29 seconds to cut the lead back to three.
The Cardinals (2-1 overall and 1-0 in district play) ran out the clock as Somerset (1-2, 0-1) was unable to stop the game clock.
"We grew up some tonight," admitted Cardinals' coach Rodney Turpin. "This experience will make us a better team."
The Cardinals travel to Liberty for another district contest against Casey County this Friday night (7:30).