CORBIN — A strong start to Thursday’s scrimmage against Corbin was erased by five Middlesboro turnovers as the Redhounds scored the final 27 points to take a 34-12 win over the Jackets in an SEKC Gridorama.
“I thought we executed pretty well early but we cost ourselves with turnovers. We quit executing when bad things happened and that’s something we’ll have to work on. We’ll get there, overall we got a lot of positives out of the night,” MHS coach Zach Massengill said. “It’s a scrimmage and it’s a tune-up game. This was the first time we’ve seen live action and Corbin’s got a nice football team. They’re deep and it was a good test for us.”
Senior running back Ryan Pittman helped the Jackets got off to a quick start. He broke a tackle five yards past the line of scrimmage, picked up blockers and outran the Corbin secondary for a 59-yard touchdown on Middlesboro’s fourth play of the night and it was 6-0 less than one minute in to the first 20-minute half.
Middlesboro’s defense forced a three and out with Pittman stuffing a third down run to force a punt.
“He had a good night, I thought several of them did. We also had a few that had off-nights,” Massengill added. “Pittman’s a workhorse and he brings it on the field.”
The next three drives ended in turnovers with Corbin’s William Reedy intercepting a tipped deep ball, Middlesboro’s Tyler Yoakum forcing and recovering a fumble and the Jackets losing a fumble of their own on the very next play.
Corbin took over at the 46 and put together their first successful drive of the night. Corey Taylor completed three passes to move the Hounds into scoring position and Tanner Powers rumbled for a 13-yard touchdown run as Corbin went up 7-6 with 14:18 to go in the half.
The Jackets lost a fumble on a botched hand-off on their very next play and Corbin recovered at the MHS 25. Middlesboro’s defense stiffened with Seth Barton breaking up a fourth-down pass and the Jacket offense was back in business.
This time they went 74-yards on 12 plays. Major Edwards had a 12-yard run on a keeper and hooked up with Barton for a 20-yard gain. Yoakum came in to play quarterback and found Pittman for a 21-yard gain to convert a fourth and 14. Barton finally capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown run and the Jackets led 12-7 with 7:44 to play in the half.
Corbin drove back down the field, but MHS senior Jesse Hoskins came up with an interception deep in the end zone and returned it back out to the 35.
The Redhounds got the ball back and were able to score and take the lead in the final minute of he half as Taylor hit Drew Carter for a 15-yard touchdown and it was 14-12 at the break.
“I thought we really competed with them over the first 20 minutes. Even with all those turnovers were right there with them,”Massengill said. “We come out in the second half and didn’t start the way I wanted to. We did a good job defensively and got a three and out, but after that… I don’t know. You make five turnovers and you’re not going to win very many ballgames.”
Middlesboro’s first two drives of the second half ended in an interception and a lost fumble. Corbin took advantage of the short fields with Taylor throwing a 13-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Moore and Tucker Jewell scoring on a 12-yard touchdown run as the lead grew to 28-12.
Both teams played their JV teams late and the Redhounds added another TD on a 16-yard pass from Jaxon Stewart to Dylan Brock to set the final at 34-12.
“We had some cramps and I’m not happy with that. We’ve been trying to emphasize conditioning and we’ll have to keep working, I think the kids saw that tonight. We got out-conditioned and that’s not going to happen,” Massengill added.
He also said the team is likely to continue playing both quarterbacks in the regular season.
“We’re going to look at it. We’ve got a pretty tight race and I feel like if we can get them both game reps then we’ll always have a solid backup if anything should happen,” he said. “They’re both doing a good job competing and they’re both stepping in there and playing tight end when they’re not at quarterback. And they’re doing it with positive leadership.”
Middlesboro opens the regular season next Saturday at Grant County.