WHITLEY COUNTY — The Harlan County Black Bears kept their hopes of hosting a home playoff game alive by holding off an impressive comeback attempt by Whitley County to win in an offensive shootout, 50-43.
The Black Bears received a stellar performance by Dylan Cornett, who rushed for more than 100 yards and four touchdowns to lead his team to their third win of the season. The seven-point victory improved the Black Bears to 3-5 on the season, but more importantly 2-1 against district foes while the Colonels fell to 4-4 on the season, and 1-2 in district play.
Things didn’t look good for Whitley County early on, as Harlan County jumped out to a quick 7-0 edge in the first quarter.
Jacob Branson hooked up with Tyreese Simmons with an eight-yard touchdown pass to give the Black Bears a 7-0 edge with 9:39 remaining in the first quarter.
Both teams failed to get anything going on offense the remainder of the quarter, but Harlan County’s lead increased to 14-0 at the 10:19 mark of the second quarter, as Dylan Cornett broke off a 10-yard touchdown run.
Just when it seemed as if the Black Bears were pulling away, the Colonels came storming back.
Woods scored from four yards out with 7:37 remaining in the first half to cut his team’s deficit to 14-7.
The Whitley County defense forced a fumble on the Black Bears’ ensuing possession, and capitalized a few plays later on offense with Woods hooking up with Jacob Paul for a 27-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 14 apiece with 6:40 left.
Woods’ second touchdown pass of the game, a 33-yarder to Tyler Downs, gave his team its first lead at 21-14 with only 1:52 remaining in the half.
It didn’t take Harlan County long to answer, though, Simmons reached paydirt for the second time, but this time around he returned the ensuing kick-off 80 yards for a score to tie the game at 21 apiece at halftime.
Woods continued his play in the third quarter by breaking loose for a nine-yard touchdown run allowing the Colonels to reclaim the lead at 28-21 at the 9:12 mark of the third quarter.
The back and forth affair continued with Harlan County answering with a four-yard touchdown pass from Branson to Christian Hall cut Whitley County’s lead to 28-27. Branson found Kennon Napier wide open in the end zone to give the Black Bears a 29-28 edge after the two-point conversion with 6:25 left in the third quarter.
Woods made sure the Colonels wouldn’t trail for long. He connected with his third touchdown of the game, a 19-yarder to Dylan Wilson. The Colonels also added the two-point conversion to reclaim a 36-29 lead with 31.5 left in the quarter.
Harlan County used its ground attack to tie the game at 36 apiece, as Cornett fought off some Whitley County defenders to break off a 41-yard touchdown run.
Cornett wasn’t finished, though. His third rushing touchdown of the game, an 18-yarder, gave Harlan County a 43-36 advantage with 7:20 remaining in regulation.
The Colonels didn’t trail long. Woods connected with his fourth touchdown pass of the game, a 73-yarder to Cameron Rose, to tie the game at 43 apiece at the 6:59 mark.
Cornett continued to be the star for Harlan County on the Black Bears’ next offensive series. His fourth and final touchdown of the game turned out to be the game-winning score with 1:13 left gave his team a seven-point win.