Bears chew up 407 yards to down Letcher
Clinging to a seven-point halftime advantage after leading by 21 at point, the Harlan County Black Bears took control on both sides of the line of scrimmage in the second half on the way to a 56-28 win Friday over visiting Letcher Central in the annual Coal Bowl.
Letcher sophomore quarterback Carson Adams was sacked three times and hurried many more after passing for 186 yards and three touchdown in the first half.
The Bears’ offense rolled up 407 yards on the ground, led by seniors Ben Landis and Tyler Casolari. Landis ran for 146 yards on 20 carries with four touchdowns. Casolari added 123 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
Six Bears touched the ball in an 11-play, 58-yard drive to open the game. Demarco Hopkins, Josh Turner and Justin Brown each picked up first downs before quarterback Jacob Wilson turned a broken play into a 10-yard touchdown run with 7:05 to play in the first quarter. Jordan Steele hit the extra point.
Letcher needed only one play to answer as Adams teamed with Hunter Campbell for a 62-yard touchdown pass. The Bears appeared to have Campbell stopped near midfield, but the talented senior running back broke free. Eric Chesley hit the first of three extra points in the half.
Landis ran 24 yards and Matt Brown ran 23 as the Bears scored again on a five-play drive capped on a 9-yard run by Hopkins. Steele’s extra point put the Bears up 14-7.
Harlan County made its first defensive stop to close the first quarter as Turner helped stop Campbell on fourth down at the Bears’ 27. Harlan County went 63 yards in 10 plays, highlighted by runs from Hopkins, Landis and Casolari. Landis went the final 2 yards for a touchdown with 9:07 to play in the first half. Steele’s extra point was wide left.
The Bears got the ball back four plays later when Cade Middleton recovered a fumble on the Letcher 15 after an errant snap on a punt. Elisha Smallwood caught a 12-yard pass from Wilson, then Turner went in from the 5 out of the Wildcat formation. Wilson found Smallwood for the two-point conversion and a 21-point lead.
Letcher battled back with the help of the Bears’ struggles in the secondary, made worse when Justin Brown went out of the game with an ankle injury.
Adams found Jonah Little for a 62-yard touchdown pass on the next play from scrimmage. The extra point cut the deficit to 14 with 5:40 left in the half.
After a fumbled kickoff by Matt Brown near midfield, the Cougars drove deep into HCHS territory before Adams was stopped inches short of the goal line on fourth down.
HCHS punted for the first time and the Cougars drove again with the help of two pass interference penalties, one called by an official from 30 yards behind the play when the official inches away didn’t throw a flag. Adams found Zach Hensley on a 9-yard TD pass with 2.5 seconds left in the half. The extra point cut the HCHS lead to seven.
Landis and Casolari took over In the second half as the Bears controlled the line of scrimmage.
A 2-yard run by Landis capped a six-play, 57-yard drive. Steele’s extra point pushed the lead to 35-21
A 52-yard pass from Adams to Luke Goins set up a 6-yard touchdown run by Adams. Chesley’s extra point cut the deficit back to seven.
Landis scored on a 6-yard run late in the third quarter, then Steele’s extra point made the score 42-28.
Casolari and Landis each had 1-yard TD runs in the final period as the Bears pulled away in the second half.
Harlan County (6-1 overall, 2-0) is open on Friday before traveling to Johnson Central on Oct. 18. Letcher Central (3-4 overall, 1-1 district) plays at Clay County on Friday.
Harlan County 56, Letcher Central 28
Letcher Central 7 14 7 0 — 28
Harlan County 14. 14. 14 14 — 56
HC — Wilson 10 run (Steele kick)
LC — Campbell 62 pass from Adams (Chesley kick)
HC — Hopkins 9 run (Steele kick)
HC — Landis 2 run (kick failed)
HC — Turner 5 run (Smallwood pass from Wilson)
LC — Little 61 pass from Adams (Chesley kick)
LC — Hensley 8 pass from Adams (Chesley kick)
HC — Landis 2 run (Steele kick)
LC — Adams 6 run (Chesley kick)
HC — Landis 6 run (Steele kick)
HC — Casolari 1 run (Steele kick)
HC — Landis 1 run (Steele kick)
First downs 13 26
Rushing-Yds 27-108 60-407
Passing 250 22
Comp-Att-Int 10-23-0-250 2-2-22
Penalties 10-99 11-83
Punts 3-22 1-30
RUSHING—Letcher Central, Campbell 12-77, Blair 4-16, Little 2-9, Webb 1-2, Adams 8-4. Harlan County, Landis 21-146, Casolari 17-123, Hopkins 9-55, M. Brown 2-30 Turner 4-22, Wilson 4-21, Smiddy 3-8.
PASSING — Letcher Central, Adams 10-22-0-250, Blair 0-1-0-0. Harlan County, Wilson 2-2-0-22.
RECEIVING—Letcher Central, Blair 3-60, Campbell 2-70, Little 2-58, Goins 1-52, Hensley 1-8, Webb 1-2. Harlan County, Smallwood 1-12, J. Brown 1-10.