Late drive comes up short as Bears fall to Clay

Fleming-Neon spoils Dragons’ opener


Kim Henson

Harlan County’s Gage Bailey, pictured in action earlier this season, ran for 100 yards and passed for 85 as the Bears fell 18-8 to Knox Central on Tuesday in Barbourville.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Jayce Brown, an eighth-grade running back, made a move in Thursday’s eighth-grade game against Clay County. The visiting Tigers won 14-8. (Kim Henson)

Down by six points late in the third quarter on Thursday against Clay County, the Harlan County Black Bears’ eighth-grade team put together a drive that will be difficult to top the remainder of the season.
The Bears drove 81 yards in 18 plays after Brayden Morris recovered a fumble with three minutes left in the quarter. The drive ran just over 11 minutes off the clock, leaving Clay with no time to respond. The only problem was the drive ended just short of the goal line, as time expired. The Bears fell 14-8
Gage Bailey, Jayce Brown and Shemarr Carr took turns carrying the ball as the Bears picked up six first downs before Brown fumbled a pitch on fourth down from the Clay 5.
“I am extremely proud of our team,” Harlan County coach Scott Caldwell said. “Clay returned everyone from last year and is a league favorite this year. We had our shot at the end and came up short, however it wasn’t from lack of toughness or effort by our players. Our seventh grade looked dominant again but will get tested this coming week. We will go back to work and keep trying to improve for the end of season playoffs, which is our ultimate goal.”
The game was dominated by defense in the first quarter, but a long kickoff return by Brown to open the second quarter set up the first touchdown. Bailey ran 18 yards in three plays, scoring on a 2-yard run with 6:20 left in the first half. Bailey’s two-point conversion run put the Bears up 8-0.
Clay County cut the deficit to 8-6 with a touchdown in the second quarter, then took the lead on the second play of the third quarter and added the two-point conversion.
Harlan County plays host to North Laurel on Thursday.
Harlan County rolled to a 26-0 win in seventh-grade action to improve to 2-0 on the season.
Isiah Cornett floated a pass that Brady Smith grabbed and turned into a 52-yard touchdown play with 3:25 left in the first quarter. The two-point conversion run failed.
The Harlan County defense produced the second touchdown as Braydon Middleton picked up a fumbled snap and took it 35 yards for a score. Brayden Morris added the two-point conversion for a 14-0 lead with 1:41 left in the opening period.
Middleton and Cornett each had tackles for losses to close the first quarter and set up the third Bears’ touchdown. Morris took a pitch from Cornett and raced 55 yards for a score and a 20-0 lead with five minutes left in the half.
Kaydon Adams broke up a Clay County pass on third down and the Bears had a final chance to score before halftime, but Morris was knocked out of bounds at the Clay 4 as time expired.
Clay picked up a couple of first downs and held the ball throughout the third quarter before Middleton and Cornett each made tackles for losses to end the threat. Morris ran 54 yards to the Clay 1, then scored on the next play for a 26-point lead with 4:22 left in the game.
Fleming-Neon won the first half and Harlan won the second but the Dragons were unable to overcome an early 34-point deficit in a 34-22 loss on Tuesday in Letcher County.
Jake Brewer teamed with Donald Sharp for a 50-yard pass to start the scoring for the Dragons. Brewer had the two-point conversion.
Brewer added a 55-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and also added the two-point conversion.
Nathan Cochran closed the scoring with a 50-yard touchdown run to end the game.