Whitesburg KY

Cougars continue their run at district title

Coming off a heartbreaking loss to Harlan County last week by the score of 12-7, Letcher County Central had the chance to really shake things up in the district as they traveled to Williamsburg to take on the Whitley County Colonels.

The Colonels were 2-0 in district play and, with a win over the Cougars, they would be in great shape for a run at the district title. The Cougars would need to win to keep any shot of getting a home playoff game.

With one loss in the district already, the Cougars really had to dig deep against a very good Colonel team. Whitley County runs the ball most of the time and they try to wear you down.

The Colonels lost earlier in the season to Belfry by 24, while the Cougars lost in the last minute of their game with the Pirates.

The Colonels beat Harlan County 36-8, while the Cougars lost 12-7. These scores really don’t mean much because it’s how you match up with the opponent you are playing on that particular night.

The Cougars are about six plays away from being 6-0, but they are 4-2 while the Colonels are 3-3.

It was a wet and muddy night, and the game was delayed twice for lightning. The kickoff came well after 8 p.m. The Cougars received the opening kick and the Colonels tried a squib kick.

The ball hit an up back for the Cougars and was loose on the field. The Colonels recovered and the curse of the special teams continued for the Cougars. They have really struggled handling the ball on kickoffs and punts all season.

The Colonels wasted no time, as quarterback Jamie Lebanon moved his squad to the Cougar 14- yard line and then on a fourthand inches play, he got a first down on a quarterback sneak.

On the next play he found Jordon Singleton in the end zone for the quick 6-0 lead. The point after was also good.

The Cougars covered the ball on the next kickoff and started at the 45-yard line.

They move quickly as Logan Johnson hit Dustin Brown with a pass and he took off all the way to the Colonels’ 15-yard line.

He picked up most of it on his own. But the drive would stall out inside the Colonels’ 10-yard, and the Cougars turned it over on downs.

Pinned close to their own goal line, the Colonels were unable to move the ball and were forced to punt by a very stingy Cougar defense.

Chase Adams got a big return to the Colonel 35, and the Cougars were in business. Greg Collins picked up 11 to the 24 on first down.

After a completion to Jesse Rose, Johnson ran a play action pass play, and found Chase Adams in the end zone with 2:35 in the first quarter. The extra point was no good and the score was 7- 6 after one quarter.

The Cougar defense quickly forced another Colonel punt and the offense was back on the field. They drove all the way to the Colonel 5-yard line, but for the second time in the half, the Colonels held them on a fourth-down play and took over on downs.

Behind Lebanon and Bramlett, the Colonels moved to midfield, and as the rain started back Bramlett found an opening, took off up the middle, and got all the way to the Cougar 4-yard line.

Lebanon scored on the next play and it was 14-6 with 2:12 in the half. The Cougars struck back as Johnson moved the Cougars to midfield, and then after a personal foul on the Colonels, the ball was moved to the 34.

Johnson found Jesse Rose at the Colonel 8-yard line on a pass play with 40 seconds in the half, and then Johnson ran the last eight yards on his own for the score.

The conversion from a yard and a half by Johnson was also good for 2 points after Whitley was called for pass interference on the first attempt. The score was 14-14, and it was half-time.

The Colonels opened the second half on offense and they quickly took the lead as Lebanon found a huge hole and took it up the middle for 75 yards and a 20- 14 Colonel lead early in the third quarter, and the fireworks had begun.

The Cougars came right back as Johnson connected on passes to Chase Adams and Jesse Rose, and moved to the Colonel 5-yard line.

Robbie Huff got the call with a touchdown pass from Johnson and the score was tied at 20. The Colonels quickly marched back and completely caught the Cougars off guard with a pass to the Cougar 25.

A personal foul on the Cougars later took the ball to the 8-yard line. The Colonels retook the lead 27-20 in the middle of the third period. It was starting to be a shoot-out.

The Cougars came right back and, after a touchdown by Jesse Rose was called back on an illegal block by the Cougars, it was fourth down and the Cougars had to punt. But the Cougars faked the punt and Jesse Rose got the snap from his up back position, and took it down to the Colonel 10-yard line for a huge first down, and a shift of momentum to the Cougars.

After getting to the 2-yard line, Dustin Brown scored from there to make it 27-26 with 1:22 in the third quarter. The conversion was no good.

The Cougar defense came out with a sense of urgency on the next series and took control. Starting at the 35, the Colonels were held to 2 yards on three plays. Lebanon was sacked on third down by Josh McBee, Ryan Hogg and Koree Stewart, and the Colonels punted it back to the Cougars.

The Cougars had not led all night but Rose moved the ball to the 27 of the Colonels on carries of 18 and 9 yards. Johnson hooked up with Dustin Brown on the Colonel 3-yard line, with a pass for another first down. Johnson scored from there, and the Cougars led 34-27 as Rose scored the 2-point conversion with 8:12 in the fourth quarter.

The Cougars forced a Whitley punt on the next series, but then it got really scary. With 4:30 in the game the Cougars had to punt it back to the Colonels, but Whitley County tried to block it and was called for roughing the kicker, and the Cougars retained possession.

The Cougars tried to drain the clock, but again they were forced to punt with 2 minutes left in the game. The ball was hiked over the punter’s head and the Colonels tackled him at the 33-yard line. The Colonels were in great shape.

The Cougar defense rose up again and got a big hit behind the lines by McBee and Hogg on first down, for a loss of 2. An offsides call on Whitley County brought up a second and 17 with 1:52 in the game.

With desperation setting in, Lebanon tried another pass, which was picked off at the 10- yard line by Travis Stephens, and the Cougars had held.

They ran out the clock and held on for the 34-27 victory. They improved to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in district play. Whitley falls to 3-4 overall and 2-1 in district play.

This was a huge road win for the Cougars, and with home games in the district coming up against Clay County and North Laurel, the Cougars are in control of their own destiny.

The Cougars put up 390 yards of offense against the Colonels, and 209 of those came on the ground with Johnson leading the way with 73 yards on 12 attempts.

Jesse Rose picked up 71 yards on the ground and Greg Collins picked up 45 to lead the way. Johnson connected on 14-18 passing for 181 yards and two touchdowns. Rose caught three passes for 75 yards, Dustin Brown 3 for 63, and Chase Adams had 44 yards receiving.

The season is winding down and the Cougars are gearing up for a possible district title. The next few weeks will tell the tale.

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