Football notebook: Dragons and Bears fall on Friday

Published 6:09 pm Monday, October 23, 2023

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Jaguars hold off Harlan County’s upset bid

By Les Dixon

13th Region Sports Network

North Laurel found itself in an unexpected battle Friday until finally pulling away in the second half to defeat a much-improved Harlan County squad, 28-12.

The win improves the Jaguars to 5-4 overall, but most importantly, assures North Laurel a home playoff game in two weeks.

North moved to 3-1 against district opponents and will host a home playoff game for only the fifth time in program history.

North Laurel will be back in action Friday at home against Wayne County with a 7:30 p.m. scheduled kick-off.

“Harlan County had a great game plan,” North Laurel coach Jason Chappell said. “They ran the play clock down to one every snap and was able to stay in good down and distance situations in the first half. We had only seven snaps on offense during the first half but led 14-12 at halftime.

“Defensively, we played much better in the second half, but they still slowed tempo,” he added. “Offensively, we were very efficient tonight.”

The Black Bears ate up the clock in the first quarter and kept the Jaguar offense off the field.

Harlan County managed to get on the scoreboard, taking a 6-0 lead, thanks to a 10-yard touchdown run by Luke Kelly at the 1:25 mark of the first quarter.

Ethan Gregory’s 3-yard touchdown run with 10:17 to go in the second quarter gave North Laurel a 7-6 edge, but Harlan County’s Ethan Rhymer scored from 1 yard out, allowing the Black Bears to reclaim a 12-7 lead with 1:18 remaining in the first half.

The Jaguars received the ball and quickly moved downfield as Gregory’s second rushing touchdown with eight seconds remaining gave North Laurel a 14-12 advantage entering the locker room at halftime.

Quarterback Hunter Morgan marched his squad downfield and connected with Jude McWhorter for a 20-yard touchdown pass to push North Laurel’s lead to 21-12 with 8:37 remaining in the third quarter.

The Jaguars’ Treyshawn Holmes-Evans made a huge fumble recovery on the Jaguar three-yard line to stop Harlan County from scoring late in the third quarter and added a five-yard touchdown run with 4:55 remaining in the fourth quarter that sealed the win, giving North Laurel a commanding, 28-12, lead.

Harlan County (1-8) closes its regular season schedule on Friday at Bell County.

Goodin takes charge in second half to spark Jackets’ comeback

By John Henson

Contributing Sports Writer

One week after suffering their first district loss in seven years, a 37-8 blowout at Middlesboro, the Williamsburg Yellow Jackets found themselves down 14-0 at halftime on Friday at Harlan.

With his team’s season slipping away, junior quarterback Nate Goodin took matters into his own hands in the second half. He ran for three touchdowns as the Jackets rallied for a 28-14 win to lock up second place in District 7 of Class A.

“We played so much better the second half,” said Goodin, who finished with 226 yards on 19 carries to lead Williamsburg’s 326-yard rushing effort. “We knew 14 points would be tough to come back from, but we knew we could do it. We took what they gave us and we got some great blocking from our line.”

Goodin found success time and time again in the second half with a delayed draw play that caught the Dragons out of position.

“They played well and played with a sense of urgency the second half. They do a good job on that draw play, and that was a big concern coming in,” Harlan coach Eric Perry said. “Goodin was the man. We focused on him all week. We did a good job on him the first half. They were able to run a lot of kids in the second half, and I thought we got tired. They did us the second half kind of like we did them the first half. We’ve struggled finishing all year, but our kids battled hard.”

The Jackets started the comeback with a 10-play, 87-yard drive after stopping Harlan on downs. Goodin and Hunter Thomas, who finished with 99 yards, took turns carrying the ball before Goodin went in from the 6 with 4:54 left in the third quarter.

Williamsburg needed only three plays on its second drive of the half as Goodin went in from the 13 with 1:18 left in the quarter, then tied the game with a two-point conversion.

With the game tied, the Jackets’ third drive of the half appeared to be in trouble before Goodin found Matthew Davis for an 18-yard pass on a fourth-and-13 play. Goodin went in from the 11 two plays later to put the Jackets up 20-14 with 6:22 left in regulation.

Harlan put together its best drive of the second half at that point, driving to the Williamsburg 25 before Zyler Housekeeper picked off a Varner pass on a third-and-20 play and took it back 90 yards for a game-clinching touchdown. Goodin’s two-point conversion pushed the Jackets’ lead to 14 with 1:02 left.

Harlan did almost everything right the first half, beginning when Akal caught Goodin from behind on a 70-yard run as he stripped the ball away at the 2 and the Dragons recovered in the end zone.

A Sedrick Washington interception set up the game’s first touchdown. Will Varner teamed with Donovan Montanaro for a 15-yard TD pass with 7:59 left in the first half to cap a 61-yard, seven-play drive.

Harlan scored again with 1:25 left in the first half as three Williamsburg penalties aided a 71-yard drive capped by Akal’s 12-yard run around left end. Akal’s two-point conversion gave the Dragons a 14-0 lead.

“I thought we played well the first half,” Perry said. “We created some turnovers, and we were able to run the football and make some throws.”

Harlan closes its regular season schedule Friday at South Laurel before traveling to take on defending state champ Pikeville in the first round of the Class A playoffs. Williamsburg plays at Perry Central on Friday and will play host to Lynn Camp in the first round of the playoffs the following week.