Bears find a way on last play to edge Bell in junior varsity action


Luke Kelly

Down to their last play Monday and facing a six-point deficit, the Harlan County Black Bears and coach Scotty Bailey had to be creative in their first junior varsity game of the season.
“I thought it might have to come down to some type of play to catch them off guard,” said Bailey. “About four plays before, we ran Luke (Kelly) on sweep right to our sidelines and that’s when I first kind of got the idea, especially with him right-handed. I wanted him to have the best chance to throw a good ball. So, after we got that first down I called the timeout and knew we had one shot at it with eight seconds left. I could see in the boys’ eyes they wanted it so right there I knew something special was gonna happen. They had a great drive, especially late in the game with time running out. I looked at Luke and he was killed out. I asked if he could throw it and he said probably not … I said ‘yes, you can. Catch the sweep, take a step then turn and throw it as far as you can and (Jared) Rhymer will be wide open in the end zone.”
Kelly followed directions as he took the pitch from quarterback James Ryan Howard and found Rhymer for the game-tying touchdown with no time left on the clock. Howard went in for the two-point conversion as the Bears edged visiting Bell County 14-12.
“Luke threw a great ball and Rhymer ran a great route and caught it as the clock ran out,” Bailey said. “As far as practicing that play, we haven’t. I honestly didn’t even have it drawn up. It just kinda came to me when I knew we needed to throw it. I thought it might catch them off guard and give us a good chance. I couldn’t be more proud of how the boys started and finished that drive. I can’t express how proud I am of them, especially the two-point conversion to win the game. We ran quarterback sneak with James Ryan and we had the whole team in there pushing to get us in the end zone. That was James Ryan’s first time ever playing quarterback, but I’m sure no one could tell. He looked like a natural. He handled everything I threw at him. I was very proud of him, I know what it’s like to be thrown in that position and it’s tough. It was an awesome game to be a part of, I feel like these kind of games will make the boys want to buy in more and want to practice harder.”
Bell built a 12-0 lead before Harlan County cut the deficit in half on a 20-yard touchdown run by Kelly.
“Offensively, we had a bunch of guys run the ball hard. James Ryan started off running the ball in shotgun,” Bailey said. “Darren Alred had a couple of hard runs for us, including a big first down for us late in the game. Bryan Howard ran the ball great also. (Brady) Huskey, (Samuel) Henson and (Dallas) Sergent came in and gave us some good runs also. Defensively, we had some good plays. Bryan Howard made two good plays on the quarterback to keep him from scoring the two-point conversions both times.”

Harlan County will play at Knox Central on Tuesday.