The Harlan County Black Bears capped an unbeaten season with the Southeastern Kentucky Conference junior varsity title on Monday. Harlan County (8-0) pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 36-18 victory over visiting Knox Central.
“I love coaching this bunch of kids. They play hard and they play together,” said Harlan County coach Eddie Creech. “They are a family.”
Harlan County struck first as Adam Clem returned the opening kick 60-yards for a score. Fred Massey ran in the two-point conversion to make it 8-0.
Knox Central closed the gap to 8-6 with a touchdown as the first quarter expired.
Massey pushed the lead back to eight with a 40-yard scoring run with 8:07 left in the second quarter. Nick Cornett added the two-point conversion on a reverse to make it 16-6.
Harlan County closed the first-half scoring when Jarret Ford connected with Cornett for a 55-yard touchdown strike. The two-point conversion failed and Harlan County led 22-6.
“We have spread it around all year. They are unselfish. They don’t care who gets the ball,” Creech said. “We have a lot of people gaining yards and getting touchdowns.”
Knox Central climbed back with a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter, but Harlan County regained control in the final period.
With Harlan County holding on to a four-point lead, Devin Curry fielded a punt and raced 24-yards for the score. The two-point pass attempt was incomplete and Harlan County led 28-18 with 7:56 left in the contest.
“We have faced some adversity in both playoff games. I am kind of glad we did. We seen what we were made of. Our boys bounced back, and we always answered the call,” Creech said.
Fred Massey picked off a pass to end the Panthers’ next possession. Massey then scored on a 2-yard run. Ford found Cornett for the two-point conversion to close the scoring with 2:21 left.