Black Bears fall at Clay County

Published 10:15 am Tuesday, September 28, 2021

By Paul Lunsford

MANCHESTER – Sophomore quarterback Tate Rice threw for five touchdowns as Clay County rolled to a 40-20 district victory over visiting Harlan County on a special Monday Night Football showdown in the Mountains.

The game was postponed on Friday due to turf being placed at Tiger Stadium.

The win marked the first victory for Clay against the Black Bears in 10 outings.

The Tigers opened the scoring with 7:09 remaining in he opening quarter as Rice found junior receiver Zachary Saylor for a yard TD pass.

Harlan County marched the ball down to the Tiger 20-yard line, but turned it over on downs.

Early in the second quarter, Clay County capped a 74-yard drive as Rice hit Saylor on a 4-yard touchdown pass to make it 12-0.

The Black Bears once again lost the ball on downs.

A six-play, 59-yard drive was capped once again with a TD pass from Rice to Saylor, this time, a 10-yarder with 4:42 left in the first half.

Harlan County marched the ball down field, using a seven-play, 65-yard drive. Damarco Hopkins, a senior running back, went in from the 3 with 1:28 on the clock. Hopkins added the two-point conversion as HC trailed 18-8.

The Tigers fought back to score just before halftime as Rice connected with Adam Collins, a senior receiver, for a 6-yard touchdown pass. Rice went in for the conversion as Clay took a 26-8 advantage.

With 7:33 to play in the third quarter, sophomore running back Lucas Allen caught a 14-yard pass from Rice for a touchdown.

A five-play, 60-yard drive by HC was capped off with a 34-yard touchdown run by sophomore Jonah Swanner at the 5:01 mark, making it 32-14.

Clay County added its final score with 2:32 to play as Trevor Spurlock scored on a 1-yard run. The two-point was good.

The Black Bears fought back to score with 9.7 seconds remaining as sophomore running back Thomas Jordan scored from the 1.

Hopkins was injured in the fourth quarter but did not return.

Clay County (4-1 overall, 1-0 district) will journey to Johnson Central to face the 3-2 Golden Eagles on Friday. Johnson Central has been without head coach Jim Matney for four week due to Covid.

Harlan County (2-4, 0-1) plays host to Letcher Central (4-1, 1-0) on Friday. It will be Pee-Wee Football recognition night as the Black Bears will be searching for a district win against the Cougars.

Letcher opened the season with wins over Shelby Valley (50-13) and David Crockett, Tenn. (26-24). Following a 48-7 loss to visiting Pikeville, the Cougars have won two straight with wins over Hazard (36-0) and Perry Central (42-6).