TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By Les Dixon For the Times-Tribune
WILLIAMSBURG — The Williamsburg Yellow Jackets have always been known for their high-scoring offensive attack, but their defensive play has really put on a show during the past two months.
The Yellow Jacket defense stepped up once again during the Class A Semi-State game by containing a highly-touted running back for the second straight week.
After limiting Hazard's Brandon Jones to under 100 rushing yards just a week ago in the Class A, Region 3 title game, Williamsburg's defense stepped up again against Raceland's Daylin Beach..
Beach entered the game averaging 109 yards per game on the ground, but couldn't get anything going against a Yellow Jacket defense that has now allowed only 28 points during the past six games, as Williamsburg punched a ticket into the Class A State Championship game by defeating the Rams, 34-7.
“It's one of those things that just has been building,” Williamsburg coach Jerry Herron said. “We're so lucky here to have a feeder program and the support of the administration and our boosters, our 12th Man Club and our town. I drove in here this week and I couldn't believe how much the town was painted orange.
“Last week you go into the game with a little bit of doubt, you think you're better, but you've got a little bit of doubt,” he added. “But we go into this week, we just felt like we were the better team. We weren't arrogant, we weren't cocky about it, we just watched them on the film — Coach (Vaughn) Hatcher had a great game plan defensively. I mean just an unbelievable job from him and his staff on defense.”
The Yellow Jackets, now 11-2 on the season and winners of eight straight, will be back in action Friday in their first-ever state title game against Mayfield, who defeated Frankfort, 35-7, in the other Class A Semi-State game.
Despite being without receiver Skyler Griffith for most of the game after he suffered an injury early in the first quarter, Williamsburg managed to build a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.
“It's just one of those nights the kids came out and executed on offense and executed on defense and took care of business,” Herron said. “Williamsburg is in the state championship. That's something I've always wanted to say and always believed it would happen, but you wasn't sure, but now here it is.
“It's just one of those things to be here in Williamsburg,” he added. "It's where you grow up and where you live, and now you got a chance to take this bunch out to Bowling Green and play in the state finals. We're going to be on the carpet next week. It's been building for years. This is a win for all of the Jackets. I can't believe it as graduate and alumnus — Williamsburg is going to the state finals.”
Quarterback Dalton Sizemore passed for more than 150 yards and three touchdowns while also scoring one on the ground in the 27-point victory while Corey Shelton had two touchdown receptions and an interception; Chase Lowrie had two touchdown receptions and Jefferson Patrick also scored a rushing touchdown.
“The offense came out just clicking,” Herron said. “It was unbelievable. I'll take the blame, I called some bad plays in the second quarter. We kind of regrouped and did a better job.”
Williamsburg didn't waste any time getting on the scoreboard, scoring on the game's opening offensive series. The Yellow Jackets put together a seven-play, 83-yard scoring drive, capped of by a 16-yard touchdown reception by Lowrie from Sizemore, giving Williamsburg an early 7-0 edge with 9:25 remaining in the first quarter.
After holding Raceland to a three-and-out on its first offensive series of the game, it didn't take the Yellow Jackets long to score their second touchdown of the game.
Sizemore broke loose with a 52-yard run that put Williamsburg at the Rams' two-yard line, and he scored two players later with a quarterback sneak, increasing his team's lead to 14-0 at the 6:06 mark in the first quarter.
Herron's squad outgained the Rams in total offense in the first quarter, 148-46, and continued to flex their muscles on defense at the beginning of the second quarter, stopping Raceland's fake punt attempt on the Rams' own 39-yard line with less than 11 minutes remaining in the first half.
Williamsburg failed to take advantage of the situation, and was stopped on its first three-and-out series for the first time during the game.
That's when Raceland's offense began to wake up.
The Rams marched down field 80 yards in 11 plays to cut their deficit to 14-7 with 5:29 remaining in the first half. All 80 yards came on the ground with Beach capping things off with a 10-yard touchdown run.
Despite seeing its defense make a couple of stops late in the first half, the Yellow Jacket offensive attack continued to misfire, but Williamsburg managed to cling to a 14-7 advantage at halftime.
The Rams had the first miscue in the game during their opening drive of the third quarter, as Williamsburg's Austin Huskey intercepted Adam Elkins' pass and was tackled at the Rams' 23-yard line.
The Yellow Jackets took advantage of the turnover, and scored six plays later, as Sizemore and Lowrie hooked up for their second touchdown of the game, a 10-yard pass, giving Williamsburg a 20-7 lead with under eight minutes to go in the third quarter.
Raceland made another miscue on its ensuing drive, going for it on fourth and two from its own 45-yard line, and was stopped by the Yellow Jacket defense.
After keeping Herron's squad at bay on its ensuing offensive possession, the Rams were stopped again on another 4th down situation, but Raceland picked off Sizemore's pass attempt and got the ball back with less than 11 minutes remaining in regulation.
But just when it looked as if the Rams were going to get back into the game, Shelton picked off Elkins' pass attempt on the Rams' ensuing offensive possession.
And this time, Williamsburg made Raceland pay this time.
The duo of Sizemore and Shelton hooked up on three different occasions during the drive, including a 23-yard pass that resulted in a touchdown, allowing Williamsburg to pull away and lead Raceland, 27-7, with 8:58 left in the game.
The Yellow Jackets put the finishing touches on their win minutes later after stopping Raceland on downs once again. Jefferson Patrick scored from one-yard out to push Williamsburg's lead to 34-7 with 2:31 remaining in the game.