The Harlan Green Dragons simply had no answer for the speed of Middlesboro Friday, falling 47-2 to the visiting Yellow Jackets. Middlesboro scored on five plays of 35-yards or more on their way to a victory over the Dragons.
Harlan stayed close early as Cory Chorak stopped the first two Middlesboro drives with a turnover. Chorak had two interceptions and a fumble recovery on the night in a bright spot for the Dragons.
“I liked the leadership that Chorak and some of those kids showed tonight. I can’t say enough about the heart our kids showed,” said Harlan coach J.B. Donahue.
Harlan was unable to capitalize on the takeaways. The Dragons were forced to punt after Chorak’s fumble recovery. Jake Brock fielded the punt and raced 79-yards for the score with 3:11 left in the first quarter. Tanner Hoskins’ extra point made it 7-0.
“We did a good job of containing them early. But, they made some plays with their speed,” Donahue said.
Big plays were a common occurrence for the Jackets from that point.
Ryan Pittman added the next two touchdowns. Pittman’s first score came on a 37-yard run. He later broke free for a 68-yard punt return for a score to make it 19-0 with 10:45 left in the half.
Middlesboro added three more scores in the second quarter to put the game out of reach.
Seth Barton scored on a 1-yard plunge. Foister ran in the two-point conversion to make it 27-0. Barton then scored on a 70-yard run, before Brock returned a punt 46 yards for a touchdown. Hoskins kick made it 40-0 at the half.
“Brock, Pittman, Barton, Foister and all of those guys are so athletic and fast,” said Middlesboro coach Randy Frazier. “That was one of the reasons I didn’t think we played well — we got all of our points off of speed. We want to get those points off of drives and defensive stops. That’s how we want to score points.”
Harlan scored first in the second half. The Dragons got on the scoreboard when the snap was low to Foister, who had to cover the ball in the end zone for a safety.
Middlesboro tacked on a late touchdown. Hayden Burnside capped a six-play 80-yard drive with a 20-yard scoring run with 3:55 left in the contest. Hoskins closed the scoring with the extra point.
Middlesboro improved to 4-0 on the season after winning just four games in each of the past two seasons. The start is the best for Middlesboro since at least the 1998 season.
“A lot of people didn’t give this team much of a chance. We have been young the last two years, but we knew we could be good if we got the kids to buy in,” Frazier said. “There is a still a lot of work to do. I am tickled to be 4-0, but the district is the most important thing to us right now.”
Harlan (0-4) returns to action next week at Shelby Valley. Middlesboro (4-0) will travel to Pikeville.