Little’s 5 TDs, 307 yards propel Cougars to Coal Bowl rout of Harlan County


Chandra Howard

Harlan County junior tailback Thomas Jordan looked for running room in Friday’s district clash at Letcher Central. The Bears were limited to 48 yards rushing in a 45-6 loss.

WHITESBURG — Harlan County coach Amos McCreary predicted earlier in the week what could happen if his Black Bears were unable to keep Letcher Central quarterback Jonah Little under control on Friday in the annual Coal Bowl matchup.
“If we don’t stop him, we can’t win the game,” McCreary said. “He runs. He throws. He’s their guy.”
McCreary couldn’t have been more prophetic as Little ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 177 yards and two touchdowns as the Cougars rolled to a 45-6 victory.
After an exchange of punts to start the game, Letcher hit with the first of many big plays on the night as Keaston Branham caught a short pass from Little, then broke a tackle for a 37-yard touchdown with 7:35 left in the first quarter. Conner Bowling’s extra point gave the Cougars a 7-0 lead.
Harlan County appeared in position to answer, driving to the Letcher 11 in a 12-play drive before a high snap went over Ethan Rhymer’s head on a third-and-fourth play. Rhymer recovered for a nine-yard loss, but his pass on fourth down fell incomplete.
Letcher responded with a back-breaking 16-play march that ended with Isaac Matthews’ 4-yard run at the 9:11 mark of the second quarter. Little’s two-point conversion pushed the lead to 15-0.
After a four-and-out from the Bears, Little went back to work with a seven-play drive that ended with a 31-yard touchdown pass to Branham for a 21-0 lead with three minutes left in the half.
Thomas Jordan ran for 11 yards to start the HCHS offense, then Rhymer teamed with Jonah Swanner for a 52-yard touchdown pass down the sideline. Jordan was stopped on the two-point conversion but the Bears had cut the deficit to 21-6 with 1:38 to play in the half.
Little completed passes to Quinton Williams and Peyton Combs as the Cougars responded by driving 55 yards in six plays, capped by Little’s 2-yard run with 40.1 seconds left. Koby Johnson went in for the two-point conversion and a 29-6 lead.
Little scored on a 35-yard run in the third quarter and a 7-yard run in the fourth quarter to start a running clock with 10:37 left.
Harlan County (3-4) is open next week before playing host to Johnson Central on Oct. 14. Lercher Central (5-2) will play host to Clay County on Friday.