What a difference a week makes. The Letcher Central Cougars were coming off a humbling loss to the Bulldogs from Hazard to kick off their season and they knew the following week would be no easier as they traveled 150 miles to Greenup County to take on the Musketeers. Greenup County was coming off a loss to Russell 45-17 and the Cougars lost to Hazard 43- 22.
I don’t know a lot about Greenup County but I do know that former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Don Gullett played there and holds the record for most touchdowns scored in a game.
Greenup County won the toss and deferred to the second half. Letcher Central came out on a mission and drove straight down the field and scored as senior Dakota Brock took it in from five yards out to put the Cougars up 7-0 after Colton Cook’s extra point.
The Musketeers were forced to punt on their first possession as the Cougar defense was fired up and ready to go. The Cougars took over on offense and on a third and 15 play, junior Charlie Banks hooked up with Brock on a slant pass and was off to the races for 69 yards and the Cougars’ second touchdown of the quarter. The point after was no good and the score stood at 13- 0.
The Cougar defense was up to the challenge again as Greenup was forced into its second punt and the Cougars were back in business on their own 39-yard line. Two running plays put the ball at the Musketeer 49. Banks connected with sophomore Chase Adams for 13 yards and a first down and combined with a late hit against Greenup County the ball was down near the 20- yard line of the Musketeers. The Cougars would eventually score again as senior Terry Tolson took it in from 20 yards out and gave the Cougars a commanding 19- 0 lead with 3:11 remaining in the first quarter. The 2 point conversion was no good. The Cougar team was really looking sharp on both sides of the ball.
Greenup County began to wake up and move the ball. On a fourth-and-one the Musketeers converted and moved the ball to the Cougar 41-yard line and a first down. After another completed pass, the ball was moved to the Cougar 20-yard line and then a personal foul against the Cougars set the Musketeers up in fine shape at the 5-yard line. The Greenup quarterback tried one running play and that was shut down so he went to the air. He misfired on second down and then again on third down as Chase Adams jumped up and knocked down a pass that would have gone for six. So that set up a fourth-and-goal. The ball was knocked down by big Caleb Frazier and it was Cougar ball.
The Cougars turned the ball back over to Greenup County on an interception at the 49-yard line. The Musketeers moved down to the Cougar 24-yard line and again they were facing a fourth down. This time it was fourth-and-1 and again the Cougar defense was all over it and Greenup was stopped again.
The two teams would trade turnovers as Charlie Banks fumbled the ball and the Musketeers recovered. He made up for it on the next play as he intercepted a pass from his safety position to give the ball back to the Cougars.
Both teams started to wear down in the second quarter. The Cougars’ drive stalled and on a punt the ball was hiked over punter Caleb Frazier’s head and the Musketeers fell on it at the Cougar 25-yard line and they were in business. They would move to the Cougar 15 and then down to the 5-yard line. It was the defense that stepped up again and stopped another fourth-and- 1 play from the 5-yard line.
Starting so deep in their own territory, the Cougars could not mount a drive and were forced to punt. The Musketeers would not be denied this time as they marched from the Cougar 39 to the Cougar 2-yard line behind the arm of their quarterback. He must have passed 50 times during the night. Greenup scored from the 2 and settled for 6 as the conversion was no good. The score stood at 19-6 with 2:06 left in the second quarter.
The Cougar offense got on track and got good field position after the kick at their own 41. Terry Tolson got a huge run for 35 yards and a first down at the Musketeer 25-yard line. They moved to the 15-yard line and called a time-out with only 30 seconds left in the half. They came out of the time-out and Charlie Banks calmly hit Dakota Brock for 15 yards and the touchdown. Banks ran in the 2-point conversion and it was 27-6 Cougars.
Greenup would not quit as it drove straight down the field and after two personal fouls on the Cougars it was at the Cougar 15- yard line with eight seconds in the half. The pass was incomplete and it was half-time.
The Musketeers had the momentum and it showed in the third as they quickly drove to the Cougar 25, but a fumble was recovered by Charlie Banks and the Cougars took over. They would be forced to punt and Greenup would take over at the 50-yard line.
The Musketeers’ ground game came to life and they moved to the Cougar 12-yard line. From there Craft connected with Stephenson for the touchdown and it was 27-12 as the conversion was no good.
With all the momentum on their side the Musketeers shut down the Cougars next possession and took back over on offense. The game got out of control at this point as the Cougars were called for three straight personal fouls and the ball was moved to the Cougar 1-yard line after a pass by Craft. They would punch it in and score on the conversion and we had a ball game at 27-20 with time still left in the third quarter.
Again, the Cougars were forced to punt early in the fourth and Greenup had the ball. It was pass and pass again as Craft lit it up and moved his team to the Cougar 24-yard line. Then disaster struck as the Cougars were called for interference and it was first down and goal to go for Greenup County. The Cougar defense really stepped up and shut down the air attack and on fourth-and-goal the pass fell incomplete and the Cougars had dodged a bullet.
The Cougars’ final drive stalled and they turned the ball over on downs. With 2:27 left the Musketeers had one last chance. They moved to midfield but on a fourth-and-2 with 1:02 left in the fourth, the Cougar defense came up big again and this time it was when it mattered most as the pass fell incomplete.
Letcher Central would run out the clock and come away with a huge win 27-20.
Cougar quarterback Charlie Banks connected on 11-17 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Both touchdowns came on passes to Dakota Brock. Brock scored one touchdown from five yards on the ground. Terry Tolson also scored from 20 yards out to round out the scoring.
The Cougars got to enjoy the long bus ride home and now they must get ready for their first district game this week against the Commodores from Perry Central. The Cougars have never lost to Perry Central and don’t look to start now.