The Middlesboro Yellow Jackets overcame five turnovers and an early 12-0 deficit Friday at Harlan. The Jackets scored two touchdowns in the final minute to come away with a 27-20 win.
“I am extremely proud of everyone on this team. These kids fought, they never gave up and that’s all we really ask of them. When we left Bell County last week people gave up on us,” said Middlesboro coach Randy Frazier. “This is a young group, but they proved this week that there is no give up in them. They got a great win over a great team.”
The Jackets trailed 12-6 early in the fourth quarter when sophomore Jake Brock intercepted a pass at the Harlan 45-yard line. Brock returned the pick for a touchdown, but a block in the back negated the score.
However, Middlesboro still capitalized on the turnover. Sophomore Seth Barton capped an 8-play 50-yard drive with an 11 yard scoring run to tie the game with 8:09 left in the fourth quarter. The extra point was blocked by Eric Young.
Harlan quickly answered with a score of its own. Senior Dalton Overbay returned the ensuing kickoff to the Middlesboro 1, where Demarcus Williams scored on the next play. Ty Saragas connected with senior Ryan Jones in the back of the endzone for the two-point conversion to push the lead to 20-12 with 7:43 left in the contest.
The teams traded defensive stands, before Middlesboro put together arguably its best drive of the night. Barton served as the workhorse on the drive, carrying the ball six times for 26 yards, before quarterback Major Edwards closed the possession with a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a score on fourth down. Barton ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game at 20 with just 52 seconds left.
Saragas’ second pick came at an inopportune time as he was picked off by Middlesboro senior Zach Riddle on the ensuing Harlan possession. Riddle returned the pick to the Harlan 15 with 23 seconds left. After an illegal procedure penalty, Edwards found Barton streaking down the right sideline for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Cole Frazier added the extra point to close the scoring with 18 seconds left in the game.
Any hopes of a miraculous comeback were quickly erased as junior Austin Poindexter picked off Saragas on the Jackets’ 26 just two plays later.
“The defensive line played really well. We had a couple of breakdowns, but they played well. The linebackers did an outstanding job when they started throwing the ball,” Frazier said. “Our secondary has some great ball players.”
The Jackets rolled up 17 first downs to Harlan’s eight, they outgained the Dragons 229-149. Edwards, a sophomore, outplayed Harlan senior Ty Saragas — Edwards was 7-of-11 passing for 60 yards with two touchdowns and one interception while Saragas hit on just nine of 26 pass attempts for 59 yards and was picked off three times in the fourth quarter.
But Middlesboro lost four of six fumbles and the first one was returned six yards for a touchdown by Harlan senior Dakota Morris. The extra point was no good and Harlan led 6-0.
“The defense lined up and played good. They played well enough to win,” said Harlan coach J.B. Donahue. “I was disappointed a little in the second half, when they lined up and ran the ball on us some.”
The Dragons pushed the lead to 12-0 when Williams capitalized on another Middlesboro fumble with a 6-yard touchdown run.
Harlan’s defense forced five turnovers, but the Harlan offense was unable to get anything going throughout the night.
“We just don’t have that consistency on offense, and I guess it falls back on me,” Donahue said. “The kids thought they could relax this week and it came back to bite us.”
Middlesboro got on the board in the second quarter as Edwards hooked up with Brock on a 13-yard touchdown and the score stayed at 12-6 until the fourth quarter.
Harlan (1-3) travels to Lynn Camp next week, while Middlesboro (2-2) will visit Morgan County on Sept. 21.
— — —
Middlesboro06 0 21 — 27
Harlan120 08 — 20
H — Morris 6 yard fumble recovery (kick failed)
H — Williams 6 run (pass failed)
M — Brock 13 pass from Edwards (kick failed)
M — Barton 11 run (kick blocked)
H — Williams 1 run (Jones pass from Saragas)
M — Edwards 1 run (Barton run)
M — Barton 20 pass from Edwards (Frazier kick)
— — —
Middlesboro: Seth Barton 17-90, Parker Uhl 24-73, Jake Brock 3-4, Tyler Yoakum 1-2, Major Edwards 8-0; Harlan: Logan 9-41, Morris 2-26, Allen 2-22, Williams 7-15, Young 1-2, Saragas 5-(-16).
Middlesboro: Edwards 7-11-1-60; Harlan: Saragas 9-26-3-59.
Middlesboro: Barton 2-29, Brock 2-14, Uhl 1-8, Austin Poindexter 1-5, Zach Riddle 1-4; Harlan: Young 4-28, Allen 3-20, Williams 2-11.