Green Dragons clinch second place in district
Published 5:20 pm Monday, October 24, 2022
By Paul Lunsford
The Harlan Green Dragons celebrated Senior Night before Friday’s key district clash with visiting Pineville in the Battle of 119.
Senior running back Jayden Ward scored four touchdowns to send his Dragon team to a 42-20 win and clinched second place in the upcoming playoffs with a home game.
Ward also rushed for 237 yards on 33 carries as Harlan snapped a five-game losing streak against the Mountain Lions.
“I felt like our O-Line really dominated the game up front for us,” said Harlan coach Eric Perry. “Jayden was a warrior once again.”
It also marked the final regular season home game for seven HHS seniors.
“I was happy we were able to get this win for our seniors,” said Perry. “Most of them were with us that first year I took over and suffered through some tough times. Now they get to reap some rewards for staying the course.”
Harlan opened the scoring by controlling the entire first quarter, with Jayden Ward scoring on a five-yard touchdown run to give his team a 6-0 lead.
Will Austin made a spectacular catch in the second quarter to extend Harlan’s lead to 12-0. He tipped, fell on his back, and caught a 13-yard touchdown reception with 7:45 to play in the half.
Pineville sophomore QB Sawyer Thompson’ connected with Landon Robbins for a 35-yard TD pass to put the Lions on the scoreboard at the 5:58 mark of the second quarter.
The Green Dragons scored just before halftime as quarterback Donovan Montanaro found Ward for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
Harlan led 18-6 at the break.
Ward’s third TD of the game came when he capped a drive with a 2-yard run. Dylan Middleton tacted on the two-point conversion to give Harlan a 26-6 advantage.
With 3:31 to play in the quarter, Robbins added a 13-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion was added as Thompson connected with Luke Akers.
Montanaro scored on a 1-yard keeper at the end of the third period. Ward’s two-point conversion made it 34-14.
The Mountain Lions’ final TD came as Landon King scored on a 7-yard run with 8:24 remaining in the game.
“I thought we struggled getting lined up and playing our responsibilities on the defensive side at times which allowed them to gash us at times in the running game,” added Perry”
The Green Dragons closed the scoring with 2:07 left to play as Ward went in from the 4-yard line. He also added the two-point conversion.
Darius Akal rushed for 52 yards on seven rushes for Harlan while Montanaro and Middleton added 42 and 26 yards, respectively.
Will Austin had two interceptions for the Dragons.
“I thought Will Austin was huge on both sides of the ball and in the special teams with his returns,” said Perry.
The Dragons were led on the defensive side by Donovan Montanaro with 11 tackles. Middleton followed with nine tackles and Ryley Mefford added eight. Austin, Mefford and Middleton each recorded sacks for Harlan.
Middleton also recovered a fumble.
King led the Pineville offense with 99 yards on 14 carries. Robbins added 50 yards on eight rushes.
Thompson was seven of 20 passing for 78 yards. Evan Biliter had 42 yards receiving, while King added 29.
Harlan (7-2 overall, 2-1 district) closes the regular season Friday at Leslie County (4-5). The Dragons haven’t won in Hyden since 1999.
Pineville (7-2, 1-2) travels to Middlesboro to take on the 5-3 Yellow Jackets in the season finale this week. Middlesboro has won 16 of the last 18 matchups, with the Lions winning in 2015 and 2018.