Whitham’s 54-yard fumble return for TD keys Pacers to third straight win


Friday night’s varsity football game between the Switzerland County Pacers and the Trimble County Raiders was supposed to be played on September 1st -but was delayed three weeks due to heavy rains and storms in the area.

Both teams looked shaky at times, but the Pacers broke the game open in the second half with a key touchdown and two-point conversion to secure their third win in a row, 16-6.

After a scoreless first period, Trimble County got on the board first on a six yard run, and after the two-point conversion failed, the Raiders held a 6-0 lead – but those would be only points that a tough Pacer defense would give up all evening.

The Pacers responded minutes later – this time on defense – when senior lineman Isaac Slover broke through the Raider line and forced a fumble, with Pacer Kyle Whitham recovering the ball and racing 54 yards for the score that tied the game. When Whitham then took the handoff and powered his way into the end zone for the two-point conversion; Switzerland County was on top to stay.

The game stayed at a score of 8-6 in favor of the Pacers through the rest of the first half and the entire third quarter; so with one period to play it was anyone’s game.

Trimble County racked up large amounts of offensive yardage throughout the night; but the Pacer defense held firm on key plays, with Slover coming up with two sacks to help snuff out drives. The Raider offense didn’t help itself, either, committing turnovers that gave possession back to Switzerland County.

With the score still 8-6 and 4:51 seconds remaining in the game, Whitham again broke free and forced his way into the end zone for a five-yard touchdown run. This time Trystan Kielbasa provided the two-point conversion, and Switzerland County held a 10-point lead.

The Pacer defense remained strong, and at the horn the Pacer had earned their third straight victory of the season, 16-6.

If you looked at the statistics, you might think that there was a different outcome, as Trimble County ran a total of 56 plays and gained 203 total yards – 199 rushing and four passing. Switzerland County, on the other hand, ran 54 total plays, getting 91 yards on the ground and three yards passing for a total of 94.

But yardage doesn’t win football games – points scored does – and that’s the only statistic that mattered at the end of the game for Coach Ryan Jesop and his troops.

Freshman quarterback Damion Courter had the three yards passing, a completion to Dathan Brown; but the running attack and the points from the defense made all the difference.

Whitham finished with 49 yards rushing on 10 attempts; while Kielbasa had 39 yards on the ground on 13 attempts.

Defensively, Brown and Tre Batchelor had big interceptions on the night that killed any chance of a Trimble County rally; and unofficially Kielbasa led the defense with three tackles and five assists.

Dex Lange had a tackle and two assists; Peter Records had a tackle and two assists; Cameron Niswander had a tackle and an assist; and Harrison Griffis also had a tackle and an assist.

Others standing out on defense were Lucas Hutchinson, Logan Skaggs, and Zach Howlett.

The Pacers now 3-2 on the year, hit the road tomorrow (Friday) night, traveling to Westport to play the South Decatur Cougars. South Decatur is 2-4, scoring an average of 15 points a game and giving up an average of 31. Switzerland County is averaging 22 points a game on offense, while allowing just over 18.