WHITESBURG – Harlan County turned in its most complete performance of the season Friday, dismantling Letcher Central 49-0 in the Friends of Coal Bowl. The Black Bears dominated both sides of the football against their district rival.
“With only three district games, you can’t afford to lose one, because that could knock you out of first place. So, we are glad to come over here and get this win,” said Harlan County coach Tom Larkey.
The Harlan County offensive line paved the way as Harlan County piled up 544 yards on the ground. Eleven different Bears carried the ball, with four players going for over 50 yards. Jake Middleton led the ground game with 272 yards rushing and three touchdowns to earn offensive player of the game honors.
“They did a good job of stopping us at first, but we started to kick the Boggs kid out with our tight end and got things going,” Larkey said.
The filthy animal defense limited Letcher Central to negative 54-yards on the ground., and just 5-yards of total offense. The Bears’ defensive front turned in a stellar performance with nine sacks.
“We knew we needed to put pressure on the quarterback, because they throw the ball a lot,” Larkey said. “They really got after him tonight. I’m real proud of them. The only time the quarterback was able to do anything was on the screen passes.”
Junior Scotty Bailey stood out in the first quarter with an 30-yard touchdown catch and an interception in the opening period. After a 20-yard touchdown run by Cole Wilson, Bailey intercepted a pass in the endzone to end the ensuing Letcher Central drive. Bailey then hauled in the touchdown pass on Harlan County’s drive to put the Bears up 12-0.
Middleton scored his first touchdown on Harlan County’s next possession to make it 18-0 at the half.
The Bears scored on four of their first five possessions of the second half. Middleton opened the scoring with a 21-yard run. Treyvon Long followed with a 50-yard score, before Middleton raced in for his third touchdown on a 56-yard run to push the lead to 42-0.
Senior Kainer Caudill scored on a 76-yard run on his first carry of the season on Harlan County’s next possession. Wilson’s kick closed the scoring.
The only negative for the Bears continued to be penalties. Harlan County was flagged 18 times for 147 yards.
“They have to get that straightened out,” Larkey said. “You can try to punish them, but they have to have a little self-discipline.”
Harlan County (5-2 overall, 1-0 district) will host Whitley County next week. Letcher Central (1-6 overall, 0-1 district) will travel to Perry Central.