An Enterprise Staff Report
The Harlan County Black Bears opened the postseason in dominating fashion as they mauled visiting Lincoln County 52-14 in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs Friday.
Harlan County opened the game with touchdowns on its first five possessions to put the game away early.
“It was an explosive start offensively. We made some big plays, but we weren’t always consistent and had to punt at one point,” Harlan County coach Tom Larkey said. “We were all over them defensively. They made a couple of big plays, but played well overall.”
Harlan County had several standouts on offense, including senior tailback Jake Middleton, who rushed for 145 yards on 18 carries. Junior Treyvon Long continued to devastate opponents on special teams with another punt return for a touchdown in addition to a 82-yard rushing effort with two touchdowns on only six carries.
Harlan County needed only six plays to score on its opening drive as Zach Chitwood raced 39 yards for a touchdown with 9:08 left in the first quarter.
A 27-yard run by Middleton put the Bears in position for a second touchdown before the drive stalled. Cole Wilson’s 27-yard field goal help HCHS salvage three points and a 10-0 lead with 4:13 left in the opening period.
The first big bounce of the night landed in Devin Curry’s hands on the ensuing kickoff as he recovered a fumble on the Lincoln 26. Long scored on the next play on a sweep around the left side. WIlson’s extra point pushed the lead to 17-0 with 3:24 to play in the first quarter.
Long added to the lead with a 75-yard punt return. Wilson’s extra point made it 24-0.
Long then scored on a 42-yard run out of the Wildcat. WIlson’s fifth extra point gave the Bears a 38-0 with 1:12 left in the second quarter.
After a Lincoln County touchdown, Middleton answered with a 47-yard touchdown run with 8 seconds left in the third quarter.
Harlan County started the running clock when senior defensive back Justin Napier returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown to make it 52-7.
“I think that was his first touchdown. I was real happy for him. He deserved it,” Larkey said.
Senior Tucker Lewis led the suffocating Harlan County defensive effort with a dominating performance at linebacker as he moved back to his old position from end with Carson Whitehead out after suffering a concussion in the win over Bell County last week.
Lincoln closed the scoring with a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Harlan County (9-2) will host Madison Southern in the second round next week.
“There are still some weaknesses we need to work on. We just have to keep trying to get better,” Larkey said.