Cumberland, New Harlan advance to finals
A big-play Cumberland offense proved to be too much for New Harlan on Tuesday in the seventh- and eighth-grade county playoffs at Coal Miners Memorial Stadium.
Quarterback Brayden Blakley passed for two touchdowns and caught a pass for another as Cumberland built a big lead early before running out the clock with a ground attack in the second half on the way to a 40-16 win. Cumberland will play top-seeded Evarts on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the seventh- and eighth-grade championship game.
Cumberland (3-6) recovered a fumble on New Harlan”s first play from scrimmage and scored a few plays later when Blakley teamed with Jaedyn Gist for a 34-yard touchdown. Nathan Shepherd added the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead with 6:44 to play in the opening period.
Jonah Swanner moved to quarterback and found a wide-open Blakley for a 67-yard touchdown with 1:52 left in the first quarter.
Swanner raced 53 yards for the Redskins’ third touchdown after Cumberland recovered an onside kick. Donovan Simmons went in for the two-point conversion and a 22-0 lead with 1:37 left in the quarter.
Cullen Whitaker put New Harlan on the board as he ran 8 yards for a touchdown with 6:19 left in the second quarter. Timmy Bailey went in for the two-point conversion.
New Harlan recovered a fumble and had a chance to get even closer before the Cumberland defense came up with a stop.
Blakley found Gist for a 31-yard touchdown with 42.2 seconds left in the half to push the lead to 28-8.
Simmons scored on a 12-yard run in the third quarter to cap a six-minute drive. Gist added a 15-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter after Swanner and Shepherd each had nice gains.
Tanner Griffin had an 8-yard touchdown run for the 2-6 Patriots in the second half.
Bailey led the Patriots with 53 yards on 12 carries, plus a pair of two-point conversions. Griffith had 52 yards on eight carries. Whitaker added 28 yards on seven carries. Griffth and Whitaker led in tackles with five and four, respectively. Ethan Kinder recovered a fumble.
New Harlan (5-3) moved into the championship game of the fifth- and sixth-grade division with a 14-8 win over Evarts in Tuesday’s opening game.
Noah Brewer scored on a 25-yard run in the second quarter, then added the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.
Jared Rhymer raced 54 yards for a touchdown with 3:44 left in the third quarter. Brewer was stopped on the two-point conversion attempt, but the Patriots led 14-0.
Evarts (0-8) scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter after Mason Woods and Dion Brown each had long runs to put the Wildcats deep in New Harlan territory.
The Wildcats had a chance to tie after recovering a New Harlan fumble on the kickoff, but New Harlan held and earned a third shot at Cumberland in the championship game on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Coal Miners Memorial Stadium.
Harlan fell 30-22 to visiting Lynn Camp in seventh- and eighth-grade football action.
Luke Carr led the 3-4 Dragons with 142 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. Cade Middleton added 92 yards on six carries. Carr and Middleton each had one two-point conversion.
Donovan Montanaro led the defense with six tackles and a fumble recovery.
“I think these boys played with a lot of heart tonight,” Harlan coach Chris Thompson said. “With 13 players and two playing with injuries, I think they showed a lot of character. We just have to eliminate the simple mistakes like penalties, blown assignments and arm tackling. I am proud of the effort they have given. It would be easy for them to quit, but they have stuck with it and I’m proud of them for it.”
Harlan (4-2) won 6-0 in the fifth- and sixth-grade game as Nate Montanaro led the Dragons with 83 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
Will Cassim led the Harlan defense with seven tackles. Nate Montanaro added six and Tyson Montanaro had five.
“Our defense played a great game, stopping them on several plays to cause punts,” Thompson said. “I thought Brody Owens came in late and did a nice job at quarterback after Colby Johnson went out with an injury.
Harlan returns to action Saturday against Jackson County.