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Breathitt outlasts Middlesboro, 35-20

By ZACH AUSMUS

Contributing Writer

 

JACKSON, KY — The latest installment of District 7’s best proved to be another hard-fought battle. On Friday, the Middlesboro Yellow Jacket football team traveled to Breathitt County and dropped a tough decision 35-20.

Middlesboro unveiled a wrinkle in its offense with senior Ethan Barton handling quarterback duties for most of the night. In this set, Barton’s shifty running was complimented by senior running back Riley Gent’s hard-nosed style.

Breathitt County scored on its first play of the night on a sweep, but Middlesboro responded with a drive of its own after the defense halted the Breathitt offense. That drive ended with an Ethan Barton touchdown to even the score in the closing seconds of the first quarter.

After a Middlesboro fumble in the second quarter, Breathitt County capitalized on the short field with an outside touchdown run to jump to a 14-7 lead. Middlesboro answered the Bobcat touchdown with a rushing attack capped off by a Barton score around the right edge to take the game into halftime knotted at 14.

To start the second half, MHS received the kick-off, but the Jacket offense fell stagnant resulting in a quick possession. After the punt, Breathitt was able to string together a drive and score to go up 21-14. Middlesboro fought back with its ground game to score, but the PAT failed, bringing the total to 21-20.

Toward the end of the third quarter, the Middlesboro defense remained resolute highlighted by hard hits by Tyler Kelly and Riley Gent. Jay Tyler West forced a fumble after reaching the BCHS quarterback in the backfield, which was recovered by MHS deep in Bobcat territory. However, the Jackets couldn’t capitalize on the turnover with a drive marred by penalties. After a fourth-down sack, Breathitt regained possession. Like most of the night, the Jacket defense immediately responded and forced a quick three and out.

With 8:30 left in the game, Middlesboro took over on offense with a short field. On first down, Barton slipped between two defenders and was brought down by his facemask, which added 15 yards to the play. On the very next play, Barton again scampered down to the Breathitt County two-yard-line, but the play was negated by a holding flag. After the offense couldn’t find success on the ground, senior Eric Helton re-entered at quarterback on a fourth-down play that ended with an incomplete pass attempt deep to Barton.

After the turnover on downs, Breathitt County started its possession with a series of quarterback-designed runs. After working their way down the field, quarterback Jaylen Turner found wideout Austin Sperry deep behind the Jacket defense that extended the Bobcat lead to 28-20.

On its next possession, the Middlesboro offense was forced to punt after failing to regain its success on the ground from previous drives. With good field position, Breathitt again went deep, and quarterback Turner found Lane Weddle, taking the Bobcats to the MHS two-yard-line. On the next snap, Turner powered his way into the end zone to secure a 35-20 lead for Breathitt County.

On the final possession of the game, Middlesboro couldn’t find the end zone leaving the final tally at 35-20.

For most of the night, Middlesboro was without Caleb Bogonko who has led the team in rushing going into Friday’s game. In his first appearance at quarterback, Ethan Barton led the Yellow Jacket offense on the ground. The senior ran for 163 yards and two scores. Middlesboro’s defense held Breathitt County to 20 points below their scoring average. Ethan Barton complimented his strong play on offense by leading the Jacket defense with six tackles.

With the loss, Middlesboro drops to 2-1 but returns home Friday to face Leslie County in its first game at Bradner Stadium this season.