Running game impressive as Harlan County routs Central, 45-18

Published 5:00 pm Monday, September 12, 2022

By Paul Lunsford

Contributing Writer

In a game where many picked Knox Central to win, the Harlan County Black Bears and coaching staff had different plans.

The Bears gained 321 yards on the ground. Junior running back Thomas Jordan rushed for 213 yards and scored three touchdowns as HCHS overpowered previously unbeaten Knox Central 45-18 on Thursday.

The Panthers had 239 total yards on the night, including 125 passing yards by junior QB Steve Partin.

Harlan County got rolling as junior quarterback Ethan Rhymer connected with Luke Kelly, a sophomore wide receiver, for a 65-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. Isaac Downs added the extra point.

The Bears struck again as Jonah Swanner went in from the 6-yard line at the end of the opening period to lead 13-0.

With 9:19 remaining in the first half, Partin found Cayden Collins with a six-yard touchdown pass. The Panthers trailed 13-6.

Just 10 seconds later, Jordan went 65 yards for an HC touchdown. Swanner added the two-point conversion for the Bears.

Harlan County made it 29-6 before halftime as Jordan scored on an 11-yard touchdown run, and Swanner went in for the conversion run.

The Panthers opened the second-half scoring with 7:36 left in the third quarter as K.T. Turner caught a 6-yard TD pass from Partin. The conversation failed as HC led 29-12.

Swanner scored again, this time on a 26-yarder. He added his third two-point conversion of the night as the lead swelled to 37-12 with 1:54 left in the third quarter.

Partin added his third touchdown pass of the game with 11:48 to play. Zach Carroll had a 12-yard reception for the Panthers.

The final touchdown came as Jordan ran 66 yards for the score. Will Cassim added the two-point conversion for HCHS.

Rhymer completed four of five passes for 77 yards for the Black Bears.

Swanner added 53 yards on nine carries, while James Howard had 46 yards on nine rushes.

Carter Howard had an amazing night defensively for the Black Bears. The junior linebacker recorded 16 tackles, including six for lost yardage. He also had three sacks.

HC also had 13 tackles from Josh Sergent and 12 by Dallas Sergent. Cassim and Downs each added eight tackles. William Jones contributed six tackles while Swanner added five.

Kelly had an interception for the Black Bears.

Partin was 13 of 24 for the game. Turner had eight receptions for 58 yards for the Panthers.

Both teams picked up 15 first downs apiece.

HC was whistled for 88 yards of penalties. The Panthers had 35 yards in penalties.

The Black Bears improved to 4-8 all-time against the Panthers.

Harlan County (2-2) will host Pike Central on Friday and open district play against Clay County on Sept. 23.

Pike Central dropped to 1-3 on the season, and the Hawks have been shut out the last two games (Letcher Central 48-0 and Clay County 47-0).

Knox Central (3-1) travels to Paintsville (1-3) Friday to battle the Tigers.

Harlan County 45, Knox Central 18