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Coach’s ejection fuels Cougar win

The Letcher County Central High School Cougars traveled to Somerset and defeated the Briar Jumpers 42-26. The ejection of LCC Coach Mike Holcomb sparked his team to a 28-point lead in the third quarter after a halftime deficit as the Cougars improved their record to 4-2 for the season.

Letcher Central received the opening kick and on their first play quarterback Zane Blair threw a pass to Hunter Hall on a check down for an 11-yard gain. The drive stalled at midfield, but Blair pinned the Somerset offense back after his punt was downed at the seven yard line.

Castle Hatcher hit receiver Austin Coomer on a slant route for a 19-yard gain. The Briar Jumpers couldn’t move the ball anymore and were forced to punt. Letcher Central muffed the punt and Somerset recovered at the LCC 45 yard line. On 4th and three Somerset went for it and running back Brycen McWilliams was met in the hole by LCC linebacker Avery Stamper, who stopped him short of the line to gain.

The Letcher Central offense was discombobulated and went three and out. On third and three Hatcher scrambled to the right and threw a crossing route to Mc- Williams who reversed field for a 30-yard gain. Then Hatcher gained 17 yards on a quarterback draw to get to the LCC seven-yard line. The Cougar defense stepped up and forced an incompletion on fourth and goal with 56 seconds left in the first quarter.

A costly holding penalty forced the LCC offense to go three and out once again. A 49-yard punt by Blair flipped field position.

After two first downs, Hatcher hit Josh Cornett who was pushed out by Blair at the one-yard line after a 44-yard gain in what would turn out to be a very important hustle play. On second and goal Hatcher rolled right and was intercepted by LCC safety Josh Lee who returned the interception 16 yards to thwart the scoring chance.

On third and two Hunter Hall was stopped short and LCC punted for the third consecutive drive without netting a single first down.

Chandler Dobbs caught a 12- yard pass to get into the red zone. Three plays later on fourth and 12 Hatcher connected with Cornett on a drag route for a 13-yard gain to the LCC four yard line. On the next play Hatcher dove across the goal line for a touchdown and the extra point was good to make it 7-0 Somerset with 1:19 left in the first half.

Jaylyn Williams returned the kickoff 33 yards to the LCC 41 yard line. Blair completed a pass to Isaiah Tyree for a 14-yard gain. On the next play Blair hit Josh Lee in stride on a slant pattern and Lee took it the distance 45 yards for the score. Blair’s extra point was good and tied the score at seven with 56 seconds left in the second quarter.

The LCC kickoff went out of bounds and Somerset quickly capitalized and moved the ball into the red zone and kicked a 26-yard field goal as time expired to take a 10-7 lead into halftime.

The Letcher Central offense struggled mightily in the first half, gaining 102 yards on 19 plays and three first downs. The Cougar defense played well, especially in the red zone to keep the game close at halftime.

Somerset got the ball first in the second half and LCC defender Jacob Kiser tackled Hatcher for a 5-yard loss on third down to force a punt.

Blair threw a quick out to Tanner Lucas for an 11-yard gain. Then Williams busted up the middle for a 42-yard run. On third and 12, Blair found Tyree alone in the back of the end zone for a 14- yard touchdown. The extra point made it 14-10 with 7:46 to go in the third quarter.

The defense forced a Somerset punt. A flag was called against LCC during the punt. The sideline got a little upset with the officials because a personal foul wasn’t called against Somerset.

Coach Mike Holcomb was ejected in what became the turning point of the game. Holcomb’s ejection lit a spark in the Cougars.

“After seeing Coach Holcomb get ejected, the team came together as a collective unit wanting nothing more than to win the game for him, to show that we have his back like he does us in every situation,” said senior offensive guard Marcus Baker.

Isaiah Tyree caught a wide receiver screen pass for a 25-yard gain. On the next play Somerset had personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that moved the ball to the Somerset 34 yard line. On third and eight Williams took handoff and scored a touchdown that was negated by a holding penalty. The defense lost Josh Lee on the next play and Blair found him for a 15-yard touchdown reception. The extra point hit the upright and was no good but LCC increased their lead to 20-10.

On the Briar Jumpers first play Tyree intercepted the pass and returned it 46-yard for a touchdown. Hunter Hall ran in the two-point conversion and in a blink of an eye LCC was up 28-10.

Zane Blair picked off Hatcher for the third Cougar interception of the game.

Blair gained 19 yards on a quarterback keeper. Then Hunter Hall scored from 20-yards out, but it was brought back by another holding penalty. On third and 25 Blair completed a pass to Lucas on a crossing route that took it 35 yards for the touchdown. The score stayed at 34-10 after the extra point was wide right.

On the next Somerset drive Cornett caught a pass for 18 yards and a LCC facemask penalty moved the ball to the third yard line. On next play McWilliams took a pitch around the right side for a touchdown. The two point conversion and touchdown cut the lead to 34-18.

Tyree recovered the Somerset onside kick attempt at the LCC 46 yard line. On third and seven Williams gained 13 yards to get an important first down. Then Hall dragged a defender on his back for an eight-yard gain. Two plays later Hall scored from 18 yards out. Blair connected with Lee for a two-point conversion to increase the lead to 42-18 with 6:18 left in the game.

Somerset scored a touchdown with under two minutes left to make the final score 42-26.

The Cougars won the third quarter 28-0 after Coach Holcomb got ejected for an impressive road victory to improve their record to 4-2 before district play begins against Harlan County on October 10th at Cougar field. The Cougars will have a bye week before the rivalry game with the Black Bears.

Zane Blair completed 11 passes on 18 attempts for 178 yards and four touchdowns. Jaylyn Williams had 89 yards rushing on 10 attempts and Hunter Hall had 58 yards rushing and a touchdown. Josh Lee had 60 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Tanner Lucas scored a 35-yard touchdown and has scored at least one touchdown in every game this year. Isaiah Tyree had a touchdown catch and returned an interception for a score and had a team high of eight tackles. Jacob Kiser had three tackles for loss for a defense that only gave up two yards the entire third quarter.

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