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Defeating the undefeated

Defeating the undefeated

A big stop by the Middlesboro defense helped secure a victory on Friday as the Jackets defeated Harlan Independent 28-21. Following a fumble recovery by Killian Ledford, the Green Dragons marched down the field with minutes ticking off the clock.

Harlan managed to get down to the Jacket 11 before Tanner Parks was sacked for a 10-yard loss. Parks threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-19 to secure a Middlesboro victory.

It was the Jackets first victory of the season, while the Green Dragons suffered their first loss of the year.

“It’s a great win for us,” said Middlesboro head coach Zach Massengill. “We’ve fought through some adversities these past few weeks. We’ve had a lot of injuries and kids out for different reasons. We only dressed 25, but I thought those 25 fought their tails off and gave us a great opportunity to win.”

Massengill said that his team kept fighting and found a way to win at the end.

“Finally, the ball bounced our way. I felt like there were three or four games this year that we were right there with them, and the breaks didn’t go our way,” said Massengill. “Tonight, I felt like we made our own breaks in a couple of situations. I’m just tickled for these kids. It’s a good win for a bunch of these young kids, and our older kids did a great job of leading us here tonight.”

The Jacket defense stepped up in the second half, forcing Harlan to turn the ball over on downs three times inside the red zone. On their first drive of the second half, the Green Dragons drove to the Middlesboro 6 when Parks was stopped short of a first down.

The second time occurred on the opening drive of the fourth quarter. Harlan battled to the Jacket 8 and was stopped a yard short of the goal line on fourth-and-goal. The final stopped inside the red zone occurred at the end of the game.

“It was huge,” said Massengill regarding the defensive stops. “When we got them buckled down, we can bring a little extra pressure. I thought the kids battened down the hatches, and they trusted their reads and made plays when it mattered. At the end of the day, yardage is great, but if we can keep them out of the end zone we’re going to be successful and win some ball games.”

Middlesboro scored their first touchdown on the opening drive of the game. Logan Capps broke free on a 54-yard touchdown with 11:10 remaining to put the Jackets up 7-0.

After an Anthony Jackson interception, the Jackets drove to the 47-yard-line. Dylan Pratt capped off the eight-play drive with a 53-yard quarterback draw for a touchdown. With 3:48 to go in the first, Middlesboro led 14-0.

Harlan scored their first touchdown of the game on their opening drive of the second quarter. A big 17-yard run by Kendal Brock and a facemask penalty set up the Paul Stapleton touchdown from 4 yards out. The Ledford extra point brought the score to 14-7 with 10:09 remaining in the half.

Middlesboro responded on the ensuing drive. After marching down to the Green Dragon 19, Capps hit the edge and followed a Jackson block for a 19-yard touchdown run with 8:16 remaining. The touchdown brought the score to 21-7 in favor of Middlesboro.

A turnover proved to be detrimental for Harlan on the next drive. After battling their way down to the Jacket 28, Nick Jarvis fumbled the ball. Pratt caught the fumble in mid-air and took it 72 yards for a touchdown, increasing the Middlesboro lead to 28-7 with 3:45 remaining.

Noah Busroe capped an eight-play drive off with a 9-yard touchdown run for Harlan with 49 seconds remaining. At halftime, Middlesboro led Harlan, 28-14.

Harlan scored their final touchdown in the fourth quarter. After tipping a Middlesboro punt, the Green Dragons took over at the Jacket 21. A quick four-play drive ended with a 5-yard touchdown plunge from Brock.

The final score was 28-21 in favor of the Jackets.

Middlesboro has an off week next week before hosting Lexington Christian on Oct. 9. Harlan will host Rye Cove, Virginia on Friday.

Writtin by Anthony Cloud - acloud@civitasmedia.com

Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN

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