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Bears bounce back with win over Perry

With six wins in their first seven games, the Harlan County Black Bears had plenty of experience dealing with success this season. HCHS coach Eddie Creech wanted to see how his Bears reacted coming off a 56-6 loss last week at Johnson Central.

“I was real pleased with the way our kids bounced back,” Creech said. “You never know how that will go. I was anxious how our juniors and seniors would respond coming off that loss.”

The response was positive as Harlan County scored on all six possessions of the first half in building a 41-0 lead on the way to a 49-19 victory over visiting Perry Central. The Bears rolled up 194 yards on the ground in the first half despite playing on a short field with the Bears’ defense dominated early, giving up only one first down in the opening quarter.

“Perry had rushed for over 300 yards the last three games, so our defense really stepped up tonight,” Creech said. “I thought this was by far our best defensive effort with our starters in.”

Timothy Bailey set up the first touchdown when he blocked a punt to give HCHS the ball on the Perry 7. Josh Turner went in from the 1 three plays later. Jordan Steele’s extra point made the score 7-0 with 8:36 left in the opening quarter.

A long punt return by Matt Brown set up a 29-yard touchdown run by Landis as he broke free up the middle of the Perry defense. Brown’s two-point conversion pushed the lead to 15-0 with 6:15 to play in the first quarter.

HCHS needed only two plays to score on its third possession. Jacob Wilson teamed with tight end Elisha Smallwood for 9 yards, then Landis raced 38 yards for a touchdown on the next play as Bears went up 21-0 with 3:14 left in the quarter.

After another three-and-out, HCHS scored on a three-play drive as Tyler Casolari went 25 yards, then Turner went 43 before Landis went in from the 4. Brown’s run pushed the lead to 29-0 with 1:22 to play in the quarter.

Casolari recovered a fumble on the Perry 22. Wilson found Tyler Flanary with a short pass two plays later, and he broke away from a defender for a 22-yard touchdown with 2.7 seconds left.

Landis and Casolari each had long runs in the second quarter in a four-play drive that ended with Casolari’s 6-yard TD run and a 41-0 lead with 7:11 left in the half.

With the clock running, Perry Central scored late in the half on a 10-yard touchdown run by Ethan Eldridge with 2.8 seconds left. Jayvin Crowly hit the extra point.

Perry battled back against the HCHS reserves in the second half. Mason Rice went in from the 1 to end a 10-play drive in the third quarter. Cade Miller turned a Harlan County fumble into a 30-yard return for a touchdown.

The Bears marched 77 yards in eight plays as Timothy Bailey went in from the 6 in the final minute. Luke Carr added the two-point conversion.

Harlan County (7-2) will travel to Bell County on Friday. Perry Central (1-8) will close its season on Friday at home against Williamsburg.

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Harlan County 49, Perry Central 19

Perry Central 0 7 6 6 — 19

Harlan County 35 6 0 8 — 49

HC — Turner 1 run (Steele kick)

HC — Landis 29 run (Brown run)

HC — Landis 38 run (pass failed)

HC — Landis 4 run (Brown run)

HC — Flanary 22 pass from Wilson (run failed)

HC — Casolari 6 run (kick failed)

PC — E. Eldridge 10 run (Crowly kick)

PC — Rice 1 run (kick blocked)

PC — Miller 30 (fumble return)

HC — T. Bailey 6 run (Carr run)

PCHS. HCHS

First downs 8 11

Rushing-Yds 29-63 23-249

Passing 37 31

Comp-Att-Int 4-8-0 2-3-0

Penalties 10-99 11-83

Punts 9-98 6-57

Fumbles 4-1 3-2

RUSHING—Perry Central, Campbell 12-77, Blair 4-16, Little 2-9, Webb 1-2, Adams 8-4. Harlan County, Landis 5-91, Casolari 4-52, Turner 2-44, T. Bailey 7-44, Carr 3-14, Wilson 1-3, Potter 1-1.

PASSING — Perry Central, Sebastian 4-5-0-37, Brown 0-3-0-0. Harlan County, Wilson 2-3-0-31.

RECEIVING—Perry Central, Rice 2-21, E. Eldridge 1-10, Miller 1-6. Harlan County, Flanary 1-22, Smallwood 1-9.