Brown burns Cards as HCHS rolls to win
It took only one summer scrimmage at the University of Pikeville for coach Eddie Creech to know he had found a weapon with Justin Brown’s decision to play football for the first time as a senior. Brown showed the home folks just how good he could be in two plays early in Friday’s game against Martin County.
Brown caught a 54-yard pass from Cody Clayborn on the Bears’ first offensive play, wiping out an early 6-0 deficit. Clayborn took a pitch from Jacob Wilson on the play and found Brown.
Brown scored again later in the opening period when he went up for a Wilson pass and converted it into a 66-yard touchdown. Brown also added a two-point conversion as the Bears reeled off 46 unanswered points to start a running clock in the first half on the way to a 46-21 victory.
“He’s an absolute weapon, and the kid is just learning how to play,” Creech said. “He’s a first-year player who changes the game for us offensively.”
Harlan County (3-0) blew the game open after a slow start, opening a season with three straight wins for the first time since 2011.
“We just didn’t have the ball a lot early. We ran four plays in the first 10 minutes, and we scored on two,” Creech said. “It wasn’t that we weren’t efficient. It just took us a while to get the ball.”
Once the Harlan County offense started clicking, the game quickly turned into a rout as the Bears rolled up 169 yards on the ground in the first half. Demarco Hopkins, Matt Brown, Ben Landis and Tyler Casolari were all effective in the opening half behind the HCHS line before sitting out the second half with the rest of the starters.
After Brown struck twice early, the Bears turned to their ground game. Landis capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run at the 10:01 mark of the second quarter. Matt Brown’s two-point conversion run pushed the lead to 23-6.
Hopkins, a junior in only his second year of high school football, had the run of the game with a 55-yard touchdown jaunt that featured a devastating stiff arm along the sideline that freed him for the score. Wilson found Justin Brown in the back of the end zone for the conversion and a 31-6 lead.
“That’s what happens when you condition the way Demarco conditioned when no one in the crowd was watching,” Creech said. “Those are the results you get.”
A Gavin Ewald fumble recovery set up the next Harlan County touchdown, a 16-yard run by Matt Brown. Wilson went in for the two-point conversion and a 39-6 lead.
Martin County failed to cover the ensuing kickoff and Zack Potter hustled in for the recovery on the 26. Wilson scored on a 12-yard run two plays later. Steele added the extra point.
Martin County scored twice in the second half against the HCHS reserves on runs by Kolby Sparks and quarterback Drake Muncy.
Muncy gave the Cardinals an early lead when he teamed with Dawson Jude for a 50-yard touchdown on the game’s opening drive. Justin Brown went for an interception on the play, allowing the Martin receiver an open path to the end zone after the catch
One major problem for the Bears on an otherwise good night was their 150 yards on 14 penalties.
“A lot of them were selfish penalties,” Creech said. “We can’t do that if we plan to play any big-time football this year.”
Harlan County will return to action Friday at home against Knox Central. Martin County (2-1) will play host to Phelps on Friday.
Harlan County 46, Martin County 21
Martin County 6. 0. 8 7 — 21
Harlan County. 15. 31 0. 0 — 46
MC — Dawson 50 pass from Muncy (run failed)
HC — J. Brown 54 pass from Clayborn (Steele kick)
HC — J. Brown 66 pass from Wilson (Casolari run)
HC — Landis 2 run (M. Brown run)
HC — Hopkins 55 run J. Brown pass from Wilson
HC — M. Brown 16 run (Wilson run)
HC — Wilson 12 run (Steele kick)
MC — Sparks 2 run (B. Smith run)
MC — Muncy 8 run (McCoy kick)
First downs 8 14
Rushing-Yds 26-46 36-186
Passing 73 151
Comp-Att-Int 4-14-0 4-5-0
Penalties 4-40 14-150
RUSHING—Martin County, Proctor 7-24, Mills 3-27, Smith 3-8, Sparks 6-(-4), Muncy 7-(-9). Harlan County, Hopkins 2-56, M. Brown 7-53, Landis 8-31, Casolari 4-30, Potter 5-21 Carr 2-2, Fields 1-2, Wilson 3-(-1), Swanner 4-(-7).
PASSING- Martin County, Wilson 3-7-0-22. Harlan County, Wilson 3-4-0-85, Claiborne 1-1-0-66.
RECEIVING—Martin County, Mills 2-18, Jude 1-50, Sparks 1-5. Harlan County, J. Brown 3-134, M. Brown 1-17.