In a game that saw both rushing attacks dominate, it all came down to a defensive stop inside the red zone. Harlan rallied back from 14-point deficit at halftime to take a seven-point lead with 39 seconds remaining in the game.
Pineville was able to move the ball inside the Green Dragon 15 with 10 seconds remaining. A Braydon Shanks sack allowed the clock to strike zero with Harlan walking away with a 35-28 victory and the “Battle of 119” trophy.
“I wish we could’ve handled the clock a little better at the end. I think our kids played hard,” said Pineville coach Bart Elam. “(Harlan) started picking on a couple of our gaps…and then they did some good things with their defense. They started taking away inside gaps. It’s no secret that we don’t throw it well, so they kind of started selling out.
“We played hard. I thought we won the battle up front in the first half. I think they probably won the battle in the second half. It was a very even, emotional, hard-fought rivalry game. Sometimes you win those and sometimes you lose them, but you can’t be upset with the effort of the kids. They played hard. They played to the end. We still had a chance with 33 seconds left to go, so you can’t be upset with the effort.”
Both teams found plenty of success running the football. Lawrence Simpson paced Pineville with 214 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries. Matt Golden ended the game with 90 yards on 14 carries.
“(Lawrence) played hard. When (Lawrence) plays hard he’s a very good football player,” said Elam. “He played hard tonight. He left it on the field.”
On the opposite side of the field, John Brady Brock led the way with 156 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. Ethan Clem finished the game with 79 yards on 10 carries, and Kendal Brock had 40 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
The passing game wasn’t a key focus for either team. Pineville’s Garland Ellis went 2-for-4 for 37 yards, while Simpson completed one pass for 35 yards. Harlan’s Kilian Ledford went 4-for-8 on the night for 27 yards while tossing two interceptions. Will Varner had a 20-yard completion to Ledford on a wide receiver pass.
Both teams had their highlights defensively. Braiden Lingar grabbed two interceptions for Pineville, while Clem returned a fumble 98 yards for a Harlan touchdown.
Harlan (3-6 overall, 1-2 district) will close its regular-season schedule Friday at home against South Laurel.
Harlan 0 6 8 21 — 35
Pineville 6 14 0 8 — 28
P — Simpson 16 run (run failed)
P — Simpson 82 run (pass failed
H — J. Brock 28 run (run failed)
P — Simpson 15 run (Lawson pass from Simpson)
H — K. Brock 4 run (Bryson pass from Ledford)
H — Clem 96 fumble return (Ledford kick)
H — J. Brock 12 run (run failed)
H — J. Brock 3 run (J. Brock run)