Middlesboro wins in thrilling comeback fashion — again

Published 1:51 am Monday, October 7, 2019

For the second time this season, the Middlesboro Yellow Jackets have won a game by one-point in overtime in comeback fashion. With both games being on the road, it made each comeback that much more thrilling.

After falling behind 14-6 to Leslie County early in the game, the Yellow Jackets were able to tie the game up at 21 by halftime and prevail in overtime by stopping the Eagles on a 2-point conversion attempt, securing a 28-27 victory.

“I’m proud of the way we fought,” said Middlesboro coach Larry French. “It seems like every game on the road, we have fallen behind and found a way to come back and win. It seems like we play better from behind. I’m really proud of the way we continue to fight. It would be easy for them to lay down, but they just keep fighting.”

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French feels like the success of the team this season has helped them gain confidence.

“Winning games builds confidence,” he said. “These are young guys that work their tails off every day. Seeing results does wonders for confidence. Confidence leads to better execution. I think we’re seeing a confident football team right now.”

In a gritty game that went down to the wire, Middlesboro relied on their upperclassmen and experience to pull them through. Quarterback Eric Helton played an efficient game, completing 9-of-16 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown. He also had 10 carries for 12 yards and a touchdown.

Jabari Kyle paced the ground game and the passing game with 19 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown and six receptions for 41 yards. Jay West caught a go-ahead touchdown on his only reception of the game on a goal line pass from 3 yards out in overtime. Thaisan Sin came up big in the special teams with 2-of-3 PAT’s made.

Ethan Barton, who caught the big passing touchdown against Pineville a few weeks ago, continues to be a pivotal playmaker for the Yellow Jackets as he led the defense with seven tackles and a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown. Riley Gent led in tackles with 10. Atavius Flanary followed closely with eight.

Tyler Kelly had seven tackles, including a game-securing tackle for loss in overtime. West had six tackles, including one tackle for loss. Caleb Bogonko made a statement by “buzzing” around the Eagles’ backfield throughout the game totaling six tackles, half of which were for a loss.

“We are going to continue to work hard,” said French. “We have to keep practicing well to prepare for our opponents. We aren’t looking ahead, we are taking it one game at a time. We will see a mix of things on Friday night against an opponent who is better than their record indicates. We can’t sleep on anyone or look ahead, we can just focus on the task at hand and do what we can do.”

With the victory, Middlesboro improved to 5-2 on the season, matching their win total over the last four seasons. Middlesboro is currently ranked 43 in the state of Kentucky and 10th in the 2A rankings. The Jackets will square off against the Morgan County Cougars on Friday at home.