Middlesboro hangs on to edge Harlan

Published 4:34 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2022


Contributing writer

There’s an oft-use football saying that states that the game is a game of inches.

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Friday night’s war between Harlan and host Middlesboro essentially came down to that as the Yellow Jackets held the Dragons from getting a go-ahead two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter to eke out a 21-20 victory.

With 4:11 to play in the game, Harlan’s Jayden Ward scored from one yard out to bring the score to within a point, but the Jacket defense made the play of the game, stopping Darius Akal mere inches from the goal line on the conversion to survive and win.

After a scoreless first quarter and an MHS turnover, the Jackets (3-2) broke the scoring ice with a three-yard touchdown jaunt by quarterback Cayden Grigsby. The point after try by kicker Petra Sin was good and the score was 7-0 Jackets.

After holding the Dragons on downs, the MHS offense struck again as Grigsby connected with Tyler Sturgill on a 32-yard TD pass. Sin’s extra point was good and the Jackets increased the margin to 14-0.

Harlan (3-1) got on the board on a 47-yard pass from Donovan Montanaro to Will Austin. Ward would add the two-point conversion and the Dragons cut the lead to 14-8 at the half.

Harlan put together a seven-play, 34-yard drive in the third quarter that was capitalized on a five-yard TD plunge by Ward. The Jacket defense held on the conversion and the score was knotted at 14.

But as it has been for most of the season, the Jackets found a way to get ahead again with a six-play 54-yard drive that ended with MHS running back Vincent Smith scoring from 18 yards out. Sin’s extra point gave the Jackets a 21-14 edge.

Grigsby led the Jackets in rushing with 24 carries for 126 yards and Smith added 38 yards on 10 carries to lead the Jackets’ 177-yard night on the ground.

Middlesboro, winners of three straight, will hit the road in district play for the next couple of weeks. The first stop is at Morgan County next Friday in the Sorghum Bowl. Game time is set at 7:30 p.m.

Scoring summary

MHS 0 14 0 7 21

HHS 0 8 6 6 20

Second quarter

M- Grigsby 3 run (Sin kick)

M- Sturgill 32 pass from Grigsby (Sin kick)

H- Austin 47 pass from Montanaro (Ward run)

Third quarter

H- ward 5 run (run failed)

Fourth quarter

M- Smith 18 run (Sin kick)

H- Ward 1 run (run failed)