Middlesboro’s defense didn’t give up a point and the Yellow Jackets got some big plays out of their passing game in a 28-6 win over Lexington Christian on Friday.
It was the first district win for MHS since they were realigned into Class 2A, District 7 with LCA, Danville and Somerset for the 2011 season.
“When we got put in this district two years ago, we knew that we got put into a pretty daggone tough district. You win this district and you’ve got a shot at going to Bowling Green, because Somerset, Danville and LCA are good football teams and they have been for years,” Middlesboro coach Randy Frazier said. “It’s very important that we finally got that district win. The kids played an outstanding game defensively and offensively.”
With the Eagles stacking the line of scrimmage to shut down the Middlesboro ground game — the Jackets managed just 26 rushing yards on 29 carries — senior quarterback Donnie Foister stepped up big. Foister completed 13 of 17 passes for 303 yards with touchdowns of 27 yards to Jake Brock, 25 yard to Seth Barton and 82 yards to Austin Poindexter. He also added a 1-yard rushing touchdown in the game.
“They had nine people in the box and played cover zero. They were going to stop our run and they did a good job of that. I think our quarterback and receivers stepped up. When teams do that you’ve got to throw the football and we did a good job of that tonight,” Frazier said.
The Jackets overcame some early jitters. Their first snap of the game got past Foister and went for a 16-yard loss. On the second play, Fositer lost a fumble on an option pitch and the Eagles took over at the Jacket 13.
Poindexter made two tackles for loss and Barton came away with an interception as the Middlesboro defense held.
After an exchange of possessions, Foister hit Brock for a 16-yard gain and a late hit put the ball at the Lexington Christian 28. Ryan Pittman ran for one yard and Foister then hit Brock on a hitch-and-go down the right sideline for a 27-yard touchdown. Pittman passed to Barton for the conversion and it was 8-0 with 1:36 to play in the first quarter.
Senior defensive end Tyler Prater intercepted a screen pass and returned it 18 yards to the Eagle 25 early in the second quarter. On the very next play Foister hooked up with Barton for a 25-yard touchdown and Tanner Hoskins added the extra point for a 15-0 lead and that was still the score at halftime.
LCA opened the third quarter with long drive, but turned the ball over on downs at the Jacket 9-yard line. After another exchange of possessions, Foister ran down an errant snap and was scrambling up field. He attempted a pass for Barton, but it was tipped and Adam Smith came up with the interception and returned it 38 yards for an Eagle touchdown. LCA was within 15-6 with 3:00 left in the third quarter.
Middlesboro’s next drive lasted just two plays. Foister hit Poindexter on a little curl screen and a Matthew Schneider block opened a big lane as Poindexter went 82 yards untouched for the touchdown to push the lead back to 22-6.
The Jackets forced another turnover on downs at their own 35 early in the fourth quarter and Foister was 3-for-3 passing for 53 yards on a six-play drive. Poindexter appeared to have another touchdown as he caught a pass on the left sideline and cut it all the way back across the field, picking up blocks along the way. He dived and knocked over the pylon but was ruled out inside the one. Foister ran it in from there to set the final at 28-6.
Barton had his second interception of the game later in the fourth. A 7-yard touchdown pass from Foister to Brock was wiped out due to an ineligible receiver down field and the Jackets ultimately turned the ball over on downs on that drive.
“For the last three weeks Seth has played lights out. He’s a little banged up, but you’d never be able to tell it,” Frazier said. “The big thing is we’re playing as a team. We don’t have any jealousy or guys who are ‘all about me’ anymore. That’s a big reason why we’re successful. These kids don’t care who does what, they go out and do their job and they’re winning football games.”
He said that attitude extends to the upcoming decision at quarterback. Major Edwards started the first four games of the season, before suffering an ankle injury. Foister had played very well filling in since then. Edwards returned to limited action at linebacker and is nearing 100-percent.
“Donnie and Major want to win football games. Major is still limping around a little bit and we played him some on defense, he had an outstanding game on that side of the ball,” said Frazier. “We’ve got two very good quarterbacks and that’s something that coach (Jason) Chappell and myself and those two boys will sit down and work out. As long as we’re winning football games I don’t think either of them cares.
“That’s the kind of attitude we have to take for the rest of the season in order to be successful.”
The rushing totals for both teams were a bit skewed because they both had a few snaps that got away from the quarterback for big losses. LCA finished with 151 yards on 46 rushing plays. Ryder Brown led the way with 94 yards on 24 carries and Dylan Lancaster added 64 yards on nine runs, including a 50-yarder in the first quarter. Middlesboro finished with 26 yards on 29 runs. Pittman led the team with 13 carries for 24 yards and Barton added 11 yards on three carries.
Chandler Snead completed 7 of 19 passes for 69 yards for the Eagles and was intercepted three times. Colin Duzyk caught four passes for 56 yards.
The Jackets were led by Poindexter’s 158 receiving yards on four catches. Brock added five catches for 99 yards and Barton caught two passes for 40 yards.
LCA managed 17 first downs to Middlesboro’s 11 while the Jackets outgained the Eagles overall 329-229.
Middlesboro (6-1, 1-0) visits Danville next Friday while Lexington Christian (1-6, 0-1) hosts Somerset.
Danville pulled out a 35-23 win at Somerset on Friday so the winner of next week’s game will clinch a home playoff game and put themselves in the driver’s seat for the district title.
“Danville has an outstanding program,” Frazier said before knowing they had beaten Somerset. “They were 3-3 and played an outstanding schedule against some good teams. We really don’t know a whole lot about them, they’ve got a new coach this year. Clay Clevenger is their coach and we assume we’ll see a lot of option, that’s what he runs. I know they’re going to have a lot of speed, they always do, and we’ll definitely have to be on our game and play very well to win up there.”
— — —
M- Jake Brock 27 pass from Donnie Foister (Seth Barton pass from Ryan Pittman)
M- Barton 25 pass from Foister (Tanner Hoskins kick)
LC- Adam Smith 38 interception return (kick fail)
M- Austin Poindexter 82 pass from Foister (Hoskins kick)
M- Foister 1 run (kick fail)
RUSHING — LCA, Ryder Brown 24-94, Dylan Lancaster 9-64, Colin Duzyk 2-13, Chandler Snead 11-(-20); MHS, Ryan Pittman 13-24, Seth Barton 3-11, Donnie Foister 13-(-9).
PASSING — LCA, Snead 7-19-3-69, Adam Smith 1-1-0-9; MHS, Foister 13-17-1-303.
RECEIVING — LCA, Duzyk 4-56, Smith 3-13, Snead 1-9; MHS, Jake Brock 5-99, Austin Poindexter 4-158, Barton 2-40, Pittman 2-6.