Black Bears hold off Bell County
by John Middleton Sports Editor
Their names won’t be in the stat sheet, but Harlan County’s 23-18 victory at Bell County can be credited to the Bears’ offensive line. The Harlan County offensive front led the way for a run game that piled up 49 carries and 315 yards on Log Mountain Friday night.
“Our offensive line did a great job, and the backs blocked good,” said Harlan County coach Tom Larkey. “It’s a great win any time you beat Bell County on Log Mountain. I am just thankful for the win.”
Senior Carson Whitehead led the way with 16 carries for 145 yards, while junior Fred Massey added 140 yards on 23 carries.
Special teams were anything but special for Harlan County in the first quarter. The Black Bears were unable to recover the opening kickoff, and Bell’s Justin Wawrick fell on the ball at the Harlan County 32. Two plays later quarterback Peyton Collett found Hayden Gilbert for a 25-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was wide right and the Bobcats led 6-0.
Harlan County answered with a score on the next possession. Scotty Bailey rolled out of the pocket and found receiver Zach Chitwood for a 17-yard completion to the Bell County 46. Two plays later, Whitehead took the hand-off and raced 45 yards off the right side for the score. Massey ran in the two-point try to put the Bears up 8-6.
Bell County quickly regained the lead as Wawrick received the ensuing kickoff and raced 99 yards on the return for the touchdown. Harlan County stuffed Collett on a quarterback keeper on the two-point try.
Each defense came up with two defensive stops before Harlan County went up in the final minute. The Black Bears put together a methodical drive that lasted 6:23 and 13 plays. Massey carried the ball six times for 50 yards on the possession. The junior running back capped the drive with a 10-yard run into the end zone on third down. Scotty Bailey ran in for the two-point conversion to make it 16-0.
After forcing a three-and-out, Harlan County put together another time consuming drive to open the second half. The Bears marched 66 yards on a 12-play drive that spanned nearly eight minutes. Massey and Chitwood combined for nine carries and 46 yards, before Whitehead closed the drive with a 2-yard run up the middle. Cole Wilson nailed the extra point to make it 23-12.
Bell County tacked on a late touchdown. Harlan County forced a missed field goal from the 8-yard line, but a roughing the kicker penalty was called. Three plays later, Collett connected with Chase Woolum on an 8-yard score with 1:19 remaining. The two-point run was short and the Bears led by five.
Harlan County had several drives stalled by penalties. The Bears were assessed with 12 penalties for 110 yards, eight of which were holding fouls. Meanwhile, the Bobcats were flagged just four times for 3 yards.
Harlan County (7-3) returns to action next week in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs against Lincoln County. Bell County (6-4) will will entertain Elizabethtown.
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