A bus malfunction proved to be an omen for the South Floyd Raiders as they traveled to Harlan for the Green Dragons’ season opener Friday night.
The Raiders’ bus broke down in Cumberland, delaying the start of the game by nearly an hour. When it did begin, they might have wished they had stayed in McDowell.
The Dragons gave new meaning to the word “efficiency,” scoring six touchdowns on only seven snaps in the first quarter to set a running clock in motion just 10 minutes into the game en route to a 54-12 rout.
“As a coach, any time I get out of rhythm, it’s no fun,” Harlan coach J.B. Donahue said of the delayed start. “But the kids handled it a lot better than I did and didn’t let it affect them. They ran really hard. It was a good night.”
For the game, Harlan (1-0) averaged more than 22 yards per carry, picking up 243 yards on 11 rushes.
The game had the makings of a shootout early, as Joey Swanner’s 26-yard scoring run for the Dragons was countered by a 51-yard option run by South Floyd quarterback Elijah Cotton.
“We had a blown assignment, and they took advantage of it,” Donahue said. “After that, our defense played assignment football, and we were able to stop them.”
The rest of the quarter – and the game – belonged to the Dragons. Harlan’s next three possessions totaled one play each, resulting in touchdown runs by Kendal Brock (6 yards), Kilian Ledford (70) and Tanner Parks (41). Ledford’s run was particularly electrifying, as the sophomore quarterback was flushed out of the pocket and got a couple of key blocks to scramble untouched up the left sideline.
“That’s the reason he’s there – his athleticism, his ability to scramble around and extend plays,” Donahue said. “That’s what he did.”
Brock added a 39-yard touchdown run to start the running clock. After forcing the Raiders to punt for the third time in the quarter, Christian Boggs broke free for a 53-yard return to close the period. Ledford booted his sixth extra point of the game to give the Dragons a 42-6 cushion.
Swanner added a 29-yard scoring run on Harlan’s only offensive play of the second quarter, and the Dragons rolled into halftime with a 48-6 lead.
A bad punt snap on South Floyd’s first possession in the third quarter gave Harlan a short field, and the Dragons capitalized, as Boggs’ 16-yard run set up a 2-yard touchdown by Swanner. Harlan led 54-6 after three quarters.
Quarterback Brady Jones scored on a 4-yard keeper for the Raiders on the game’s final play.
Ledford and Brock led the Dragons’ rushing attack with 70 and 63 yards, respectively. Swanner added 57 yards on three touchdown runs. Cotton powered South Floyd with 108 yards on 17 carries.
Donahue, starting his 24th season at the helm, said he isn’t concerned about the Dragons being too high after the blowout.
“I’d rather fight that battle than the opposite, let’s put it that way,” he said. “I’ve been doing it a while; I believe I can bring them back down next week.”
The Dragons return to action at home next week with a homecoming matchup against Thomas Walker, Va.