First-year New Harlan coach Brett Johnson found his team’s biggest weakness Saturday in the HCHS Bowl, courtesy of the Letcher Central Cougars and quarterback Nicholas Sergent.
Sergent picked apart the New Harlan secondary, throwing for five touchdowns and well over 200 yards in a 32-14 rout in seventh- and eighth-grade football action.
New Harlan brings back only one starter on defense from last year’s state final four team and had trouble getting pressure on the elusive Sergent and even more trouble covering the Letcher defenders.
Matthew Baker and Jonathan Sergent each had two touchdown receptions for the Cougars. Baker had a 44-yard catch in the first quarter and a 60-yard reception in the second. Sergent had 32-yard catch in the first quarter and a 60-yard TD reception in the fourth quarter. Layton Polly closed the scoring with a 43-yard catch with 3:20 left in the game.
New Harlan tried to move the ball on the ground but found it difficult, due in part to three fumbles.
Down 12-0 in the second quarter, the Patriots put together their first scoring drive as Garry Henson ran 20 yards for a first down and Colby Cochran teamed with Jacob Thompson for another 20. Dalton Johnson ran nine yards on the play before Jacob Bailey went in from the 4. Ben Landis added the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 12-8 with 1:09 left in the half.
A 60-yard pass from Sergent to Baker pushed the Cougars’ lead to 10 at the break. New Harlan threatened as Johnson and Thompson each had big gains before time expired.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Sergents teamed up again for a 57-yard TD pass and a 24-8 lead.
New Harlan answered on the next play, going to the air again for a 47-yard connection between Cochran and Henson.
Polly’s TD reception put the game away. Gregory Kincer had a catch for the two-point conversion.
Johnson and Henson each had catches for first downs as the Patriots drove into Letcher territory before three straight incompletions ended the threat.
New Harlan (0-1) travels to Evarts on Tuesday.