The Lincoln County Patriots are probably getting tired of this story by now. For the third straight year, Lincoln County traveled to Harlan County in the postseason, and for the third straight year the Bears put an end to the Patriots’ season. The Black Bears featured a balanced attack in the latest meeting on their way to a 44-7 victory over the Pats.
Senior Scotty Bailey completed eight passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Cole Wilson was a big-play threat in the passing game. The senior receiver hauled in two touchdown receptions.
“We ran a spread offense a lot this week,” said Harlan County coach Tom Larkey. “The same people can line up in the pistol or the double spread. We can also go in the Pro-I out of that. We’re trying isolate Cole out there at split end. We want teams to fear him, and I think after tonight they will. They will be looking at him. He’s tall and has good speed and hands.”
Harlan County continued to roll on the ground. The Bears piled up 410 yards on 39 carries. Junior Fred Massey led the way with 205 yards on the ground. Senior Carson Whitehead added 165 yards and two touchdowns. Both runners surpassed 1,00o rushing yards on the season.
Lincoln County recovered a short kick on the first play of the game. The Patriots were unable to capitalize, as the Harlan County defense forced a missed field goal. The Bears turned in big plays on the defensive side of the ball throughout the night. Sophomore Josh Lee intercepted a pair of passes, while Massey and Zach Chitwood also picked off a pass. Wilson recorded several sacks from his defensive end position.
Harlan County opened the scoring on the next drive. Whitehead carried the ball five times on the drive, including a 58-yard run to the Lincoln County 23. Whitehead later scored on a 1-yard run with 2:37 left in the first quarter to make it 6-0.
The Harlan County special teams added to the lead. After forcing a three-and-out, Whitehead blocked a Boone Baird punt. Mark Messer scooped up the ball and raced 18 yards for the score to make it 12-0 with 41 seconds left in the opening period.
The Bears added to their lead on the next possession.
Fred Massey carried the ball four times for 40 yards on the drive. Bailey later scored on a 14-yard run. The two-point run was stopped and Harlan County led 18-0.
Lincoln County got on the scoreboard with a big play on the ensuing possession. Running back Marvin Robinson broke free off the right side for 56 yards and the Patriots’ only score.
Harlan County had an opportunity to add to its lead on the final possession of the half. The Bears marched the ball 94 yards to the Patriots’ 4. However, Wilson was tackled just short of the goal line on the final play of the half. The officials originally stopped the clock with seven seconds left in the half because a Lincoln County defender attempted to keep Wilson from returning to his feet. After a discussion, a decision was made to run off the remaining time.
The teams exchanged defensive stands to open the second half, before Harlan County put the game away with a score on its second drive.
Whitehead moved the ball inside the Lincoln County 10 with a 61-yard run. He scored two plays later on a 10-yard run to make it 24-7 with 1:23 left in the third.
Bailey and Wilson connected for two scores in the final eight minutes. Bailey delivered a 52-yard strike to the senior receiver on the first score. The duo them combined on a 22-yard score with just over three minutes left in the game. Fred Massey added the two-point run on the first touchdown.
The Black Bears suffered a blow in Friday’s win, as senior Derek Akal was carted off of the field on a stretcher with a neck injury.
Harlan County (8-3) returns to action next week at home against Madison Southern. The Eagles downed Letcher Central 49-6 on Friday. Lincoln County closes the season at 5-6.