By John Middleton
The Harlan County Black Bears swept a pair games against Corbin and Clay County in a Southeastern Kentucky Conference Gridorama at Corbin on Thursday.
The Bears pulled away late for an 18-6 victory over Corbin in the first two quarters of play.
On Harlan County’s second possession, Jake Middleton broke free to right side for a 70-yard touchdown run with 3:14 remaining in the first quarter. The point after was unsuccessful and the Bears led 6-0.
Corbin quickly answered with a score on its next drive.
Harlan County put together a solid drive on the ensuing possession. Senior Austin Maggard kept the drive alive when he picked up a first down on a quarterback keeper down to the Corbin 25-yard line on fourth down. Maggard then connected with junior Treyvon Long to the eight. Maggard raced in for a score, but the touchdown was negated due to a holding penalty. The penalty wouldn’t stall the drive, as Maggard found Zach Chitwood on a slant just plays later for a 21-yard score. The two-point run was stopped and Harlan Count’s lead remained at 12-7.
The Bears recovered a fumble on Corbin’s next drive. Maggard quickly capitalized on the mistake as he raced 17 yards up the middle on a quarterback keeper to extend the lead to two scores.
Maggard appeared comfortable both on the ground and through the air in his first start at quarterback.
“Austin has started three years so he is pretty comfortable on the football field. He started his first game down here at Corbin in a scrimmage and we were talking about that on the way down,” said Harlan County coach Tom Larkey.
Harlan County had little trouble with Clay in the second half of the scrimmage. The Bears downed the Tigers 22-0 to compelte the sweep.
The teams traded defensive stops before Maggard connected with senior tight end Aaron Caldwell to the Corbin 30. Maggard then found Caldwell for a touchdown that was called back due to a hold. The Bears overcame the penalty, and Maggard connected with senior Tucker Lewis on a play that moved the ball just inside the 10. Middleton later scored on a 3-yard run. Middleton added the two-point run to put Harlan County up 8-0 with 4:09 left in the first quarter
After forcing the Redhounds to punt, Middleton scored on a 46-yard run to put the Bears up by a pair of scores. Middleton added the two-point conversion to extend the advantage to 16-0.
Freshman Cameron Cornett scored the game’s final touchdown with a 10-yard run to the left with 5:54 remaining in the second quarter.
Harlan County will open the regular season on Aug. 18 against Tennessee power Morristown West.
“We’re not the team right now that we need to be,” Larkey said. “Morristown West will pack a bigger punch than either of these teams did. We will have to play harder and more aggressive than we did tonight.”