Black Bears hold off Anderson for elusive victory


Chandra Howard

Harlan County’s Josh Turner headed toward the end zone in a 17-yard touchdown run on Friday in the Black Bears’ 10-6 win at Anderson County.

During a season in which they have watched three fourth-quarter leads disappear, the Harlan County Black Bears had to feel like they were viewing a rerun as Anderson County drove 70 yards in the final six minutes on Friday with the Bears clinging to a 10-6 lead.
But this time, the Bears came up with the goal-line stand after senior quarterback Jacob Castle had given Anderson a first down on the HCHS 5 with a 25-yard run. Sophomore linebacker Josh Sergent ran Castle down for a four-yard loss on the next play. After Castle spiked the ball with two seconds left, Anderson had time for one more play. Tyler Flanary knocked down a pass in the end zone intended for Austin Beasley as time expired.
“I am extremely proud of our guys. They have really manned up and stood strong in the face of adversity,” Harlan County coach Eddie Creech said. “We have won a district title, a region title and won a handful of road playoff games, but this may be my all-time favorite win.”
Harlan County (2-5) had dominated the time of possession in the second half until the late drive, running 26 offensive plays compared to five for Anderson. The Bears were unable to reach the end zone on two long drives but the defense stepped up after Harlan County’s Josh Swanner was stopped on the 3 on fourth down after a nine-yard reception on fourth down. The Bears broke through on the next play as Josh Turner, Connor Blevins, Gavin Ewald, Ethan Shepherd and Hunter Blevins teamed for a safety with 10:20 left in the game.
The Bears drove into Anderson territory for a third time after a free kick before the drive stalled on the 25, setting up a long drive for the Bearcats that featured a couple of long runs by Castle and a holding penalty against HCHS.
Harlan County missed another chance to score in the first quarter after Demarco Hopkins was caught from behind at the Anderson 12 after a 58-yard run. Jordan Steele missed a 24-yard field goal attempt.
The Bearcats were stopped after three plays and forced to punt from their own end zone. A 16-yard punt gave HCHS the ball on the 17. Turner scored on the next play, then Swanner added the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead with 1:01 left in the first quarter.
Anderson drove 63 yards in 13 plays as Josh Bixler went in from the 2 with 5:12 left in the first half. The two-point conversion attempt was stopped and the Bears held a two-point lead.
Harlan County is scheduled to play host to Pulaski County on Friday in the regular-season finale. The 0-8 Bearcats travel to Mercer County on Friday.

Harlan County      8. 0. 0. 2. — 10
Anderson County  0. 6. 0. 0. — 6
HC — Turner 17 run (Swanner run)
AC — Bixley 2 run (run failed)
HC — Safety, tackle in end zone

RUSHING—Harlan County, Hopkins 23-106, Turner 10-50, Flanary 1-2, Swanner 1-(-5).
PASSING—Harlan County Clayborn 1-4-0-8
RECEIVING—Harlan County, Swanner 1-8.


Harlan County senior running back/receiver Josh Swanner went over an Anderson County defender for a two-point conversion in Friday’s win over the Bearcats. (Chandra Howard)