By John Stepp
The Times Tribune
The careers for the talented Harlan senior class came to an end Friday, as the Green Dragons fell 34-15 at Williamsburg in the second round of the Class A playoffs.
“This has been a great senior class. They are a talented group of kids and good young men,” said Harlan coach J.B. Donahue. “They have been to a regional championship and two rounds of the playoffs every year. I think they have made a mark on Harlan football.”
Despite being known for their high-powered offense, the Jackets held the Green Dragons to just 100 total yards of offense on the night, with over half of those coming in the fourth quarter when the game was already out of hand.
“We just had more struggles with them offensively,” Donahue said. “We played better defensively, but they got three scores on a short field. We turned them over a little bit. They are good up front, and collapsed the pocket and put pressure on Ty.”
Nathan Young turned in a standout performance with a pair of interceptions for the Dragons.
Harlan was knocked out of the playoffs by the Jackets last season, but looked to turn things around early in this year’s game when senior cornerback Nathan Young intercepted a Dalton Sizemore pass and returned it to the Williamsburg one-yard line. Harlan’s Dakota Morris found the end zone three plays later and the extra point by Ryland Atkins was good to give the Dragons a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Jackets took the ball on the ensuing drive and marched down the field to the Harlan nine-yard line. With the ball first-and-goal, Sizemore connected with senior wide receiver Micah Purdy, but Purdy fumbled the ball into the end zone, allowing Harlan to recover for a touchback.
“We made some mistakes tonight that we can’t be making if we want to win in the third round. They intercepted a pass and took it to the goal line and scored. Then we fumbled in the end zone and gave the ball back to them,” said Williamsburg coach Jerry Herron. “We have to stop making the stupid mistakes and the turnovers. We’ll look at the film this weekend and see what we need to fix.”
Williamsburg bounced back in the second quarter when Sizemore found Purdy on a 15-yard touchdown pass. The extra point by Brentley Patrick tied the game at 7-7 with 11:17 left in the second quarter. After holding Harlan to a three-and-out, the Jackets stung again, this time with a five-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Jefferson Patrick. The extra point was good, pushing the Williamsburg lead to 14-7 with 5:04 left in the first half.
The Jackets didn’t stop there when on their very next possession, sophomore running back Chase Lowrie found pay dirt on a five-yard rushing touchdown, giving Williamsburg a 21-7 lead after another successful extra point.
The Jackets totaled 281 yards on the ground, led by Sizemore who had 115 yards on 18 carries. Purdy and Lowrie added 82 and 68 yards, respectively.
“I knew we were going to have to run the ball coming into this game. (Harlan’s) Coach (J.B.) Donahue does a great job and he played the pass and tried taking it away, so we had to run the football,” Herron said. “Our running backs did a great job, and so did our quarterback. We did a really good job running the football against them.”
Williamsburg went on to add two more touchdowns in the second half, while holding the Dragons to a late-game score when the game was out of hand.
In addition to his rushing yards, Sizemore also added 193 yards through the air, on 14 of 25 passing. He also had three passing touchdowns.
The Jackets move on to play a rematch of last year’s regional finals, traveling to Hazard next Friday.
John Middleton contributed to this report.