INDEPENDENCE, Ky. -- Simon Kenton has thrived on using an up-tempo, high-powered offense to get ahead of opponents so far this season, but the Pioneers’ defense is emerging as the key to its success.
Simon Kenton held Cooper to a total of 33 rushing yards en route to a 26-7 victory over the Jaguars for homecoming at Chlorine Menefee Stadium Friday night.
For the third consecutive week, the Pioneers have held their opponents to seven points or fewer.
“The defense is playing great, which we expect -- we have a lot of returners from last year," junior quarterback Cameron Racke said. “It’s nice to have the defense to not give up points, it helps our offense out a lot.”
Simon Kenton jumped on the board first after senior running back Dillon Powell broke for a 23-yard rushing touchdown at the 3:19 mark in the first quarter. The Pioneers led 6-0 after missing on a two-point conversion attempt.
Cooper struggled to establish a running attack in its opening drives of the game. The Jaguars were missing senior running back Torey Cordell-Armstrong, who was forced to sit out due to an injury he sustained in their previous game.
After forcing Cooper to punt, Simon Kenton marched down the field on a drive highlighted by a 31-yard run by Racke. Racke capped the possession with a 23-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Logan Scott to give the Pioneers a 12-0 lead.
Simon Kenton had its two-point conversion blunders erased late in the second quarter when a bad snap on a punt went into the end zone for Cooper. As a Jaguar attempted to pick up the loose ball, his knee hit the ground, forcing a safety to give the Pioneers a 14-0 lead.
Simon Kenton capitalized on the change of possession. The Pioneers drove 67 yards to set up a 3-yard touchdown run by junior running back Dylan Hampton.
On the ensuing drive, Cooper scrapped its way to the one yard line, only to be stopped three times in a row to end the half.
Simon Kenton missed a field goal on its opening possession of the second half.
Cooper finally saw a big play come together on its opening drive of the latter half, as senior quarterback Nathan Brown connected with sophomore receiver Byron Brown for a 55-yard touchdown.
Racke sealed the win with a four-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter for the Simon Kenton.
Racke completed 15 of 24 passes for 182 yards and one touchdown pass. His 91 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown led the team.
Powell, after surpassing 3,000 career rushing yards in his previous game, added 63 yards on the ground.
Simon Kenton’s defense held Cooper to just over one yard per carry in the game. The Jaguars finished the game with 251 yards of total offense.
Simon Kenton (5-0) will host Highlands (1-4) in the finale of a three-game home stand on Sept. 25, while Cooper (3-2) hopes to rebound at home against Lexington Catholic.