Whitesburg KY

Cougars get win, but lose quarterback

The Letcher County Central Cougars played inspired football and dominated the visiting Lawrence County Bulldogs in a convincing 35-6 victory. The great play was marred by an injury to Logan Johnson on a punt return near the end of the third quarter. Johnson appeared to call for a fair catch, and while making the attempt to catch the ball was drilled by a Bulldog player. Johnson remained down on the field for several minutes and was taken to the hospital for observation.

The Cougars offense received the ball first in the game and wasted no time showing the same firepower that led to more than 600 yards of total offense last week against Montgomery County. Johnson connected with receiver Corey Dollarhide on a 42-yard bomb and two plays later Johnson scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak. Sidney Fields’s extra point was good and Cougars were up 7-0 less than two minutes into the game.

Lawrence County running back Lance Clay started their first offensive possession with an 11- yard run on a sweep around the left side. Cougar linebacker Chris Tyree had a tackle for loss and two other runs were stuffed at the line of scrimmage. The Bulldogs were forced to punt and their punt only traveled 12 yards.

The combination of Johnson to Dollarhide struck again on an 11-yard pass to move the ball into Lawrence County territory. Drew Bentley broke free on a 40-yard run up the middle, but the play was negated by a holding call and the Cougars eventually punted.

Lawrence County started at its own 15-yard line and played ball control. Eight straight runs led to three first downs and a play action pass from quarterback Hayden Kiser to receiver Johnny Bowens for 12-yards got the ball deep into Cougar territory. The Letcher Central defense stiffened when Koree Stewart pressured the quarterback on third down, after which sophomore Nick Mullins sacked Kiser on fourth down. The Bulldogs drive went 64 yards on 12 plays and lasted a little over seven minutes. It kept the vaunted Cougar offense off the field for over half the first quarter, but when the drive netted zero points you could feel the wind go out of Lawrence County’s sails.

LCC’s opening drive of the second quarter was spent entirely on the ground, which had been the weakest part of the offense all season. Drew Bentley took a pitch around the right side for a 17-yard gain, but unfortunately reinjured the same ankle that kept him out of last week’s game. Dalton Taylor then rumbled for 14 yards. Johnson scrambled for 16 yards, but fumbled after being hit from his blindside. The ball took a fortuitous bounce into the end zone and senior receiver Corey Dollarhide pounced on it for the score. Not exactly how Coach Mike Whitaker drew it up in the playbook, but the touchdown gave the Cougars a 14-0 led with 9:56 left in the second quarter.

The LCC defense forced another three and out and Logan Johnson took a punt for an apparent touchdown, but an illegal block in the back negated the score. On the very next play Chris Tyree took a swing pass from Johnson 51 yards for a score to give the Cougars a 21-point lead. Letcher Central’s defense had another strong series and got the ball back for the offense in great field position.

On the third play Johnson threw a 27-yard touchdown on a slant pattern to receiver Matt Boggs. Fields connected on his fourth extra point of the game to make the score 28-0.

Sidney Fields’s sack on third down forced yet another Bulldog punt. On third and short LCC ran a screen pass, but pressure up the middle forced Johnson to get rid of the ball early and 300-pound defensive tackle Tyler Thomas intercepted and went 27 yards for the score. The extra point was no good and LCC was up 28-6 at halftime.

Logan Johnson finished the first half completing 7 of 12 attempts for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns. Johnson also had a touchdown rushing. The Cougar defense played by far its best half of the year and held the Lawrence County offense to under 100 yards of total offense.

Lawrence County got the ball to start the second half. Consecutive tackles for loss by Cougar defenders Sidney Fields and Nick Mullins forced a quick punt. The Cougar ground game was efficient once again and the drive was capped off by a Dalton Taylor 32- yard touchdown run to make the score 35-6. Taylor had 60 yards on three carries in the drive and LCC was comfortably ahead midway through the third quarter.

Freshman Hunter Hall inter- cepted a Hayden Kiser pass and returned it to the Bulldog 28-yard line. The Cougars turned the ball over on downs, and after Lawrence County once again could not get a first down came the most shocking play of the game.

On the punt, Logan Johnson called for a fair catch but while attempting to field the ball got absolutely drilled by a Bulldog defender. It was a scary situation at Cougar Field and Johnson stayed down on the field for several minutes.

Sophomore Houston Watts came into to play quarterback and completed his first pass of his career with an eight-yard strike to Dollarhide. Both offenses did very little the rest of the game and the Cougars came away with a much-needed victory 35-6.

Sidney Fields was the star of the game. Fields had a sack, two tackles for loss, an interception, and kicked five extra points. Dalton Taylor had his first career 100-yard rushing game finishing with 102 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown. Chris Tyree had 62 yards on five receptions and a score. Corey Dollarhide had four catches for 64 yards and a recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.

The Cougar defense was very impressive and did not allow a Bulldog score the entire game. Koree Stewart had 7 tackles including two for loss and was a disruptive force in the backfield all night. Nick Mullins had another sack and freshman Hunter Hall was making plays all over the field including an interception in the third quarter.

The Cougars will look to even their record at 3-3 this Friday when they travel to Russell Springs in the Lake Cumberland area to meet unbeaten Class 4A power Russell County. The Lakers (5-0) are coming off a 34-0 win over North Laurel.

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