The Letcher County Central Cougars, coming off a 28-22 win in overtime against Perry County Central, have a lot to play for this Friday night. Not only will the Cougars be playing for the district championship and top seed in the playoffs when Whitley County visits Ermine, the contest will also mark the team’s last regular season game at home. It is also senior night.
By defeating Perry Central, the Cougars improved their season record to 6-2. More importantly, they are now 2-0 in district play.
After regulation play ended in a 22-22 tie, both teams got the ball at the opponent’s 10-yard line with a fresh set of downs per overtime rules. LCC got the first possession and running back Hunter Hall scored from one yard out on fourth and goal. The extra point was wide right to make it LCC 28-22.
On Perry Central’s first play, the Commodores handed the ball off to running back Damon Tobler who broke two tackles and dove for the goal line for what appeared to be the tying score. However, the officials met and determined that Tobler fumbled the ball before crossing the goal line. Because the ball went out the back of the end zone, it resulted in a touchback and gave LCC the victory. The dramatic win guaranteed the Cougars at least a first round home playoff game. The district champion will be determined Friday when Whitley County, also unbeaten in the district, visits.
The game began with Perry Central winning the opening toss and choosing to receive the ball. The Commodores, who came into the game with only one win on the season, showed immediately that the Cougars were in for a dogfight all night long. PCC returned the kickoff to its own 48-yard line, and proceeded to go on a nine-play 52-yard drive that was capped off by quarterback Nathan Pray’s three-yard touchdown run. The extra point was good to give Perry Central a 7-0 lead with 8:08 left in the first quarter.
On their first possession, the Cougars drove well into Commodores territory but Austin Pray intercepted a pass at the PCC 14-yard line to end the scoring threat.
The LCC defense forced a three-and-out but Letcher Central’s offense turned the ball over again, this time on a fumble that was recovered by Perry Central defender Tyler Eldridge.
Pray and the Perry Central offense drove it down to the LCC one-yard line before Tobler was stuffed for a one-yard loss on a run up the middle and a false start penalty moved the Commodores back and led to a turnover on downs. The game changing goal line stand was led by LCC defensive back Tanner Lucas who made two impressive plays to ensure the Commodores were kept out of the end zone.
The Cougar offense had one of their most impressive drives of the season. LCC went 93 yards on 11 plays and scored when quarterback Zane Blair found junior receiver Isaiah Tyree for a 28-yard touchdown. Blair made the extra point to tie the score up at seven with 5:42 left in the 2nd quarter.
The Cougar defense forced a punt once again, downing this one at the LCC 39-yard line to give the Letcher Central its best field position of the game. Blair threw a perfect pass to sophomore receiver Tanner Lucas for a 34-yard touchdown and Blair’s extra point split the uprights to give LCC its first lead of the game, 14-7, with 1:42 left in the first half.
Perry Central answered before halftime with Tobler scoring from 19 yards out. Austin Pray ran in the twopoint conversion to give the Commodores a 15-14 lead with less than a minute left.
Letcher Central drove the ball to the PCC 20-yard line and had one shot at the end zone before time expired, but Blair’s pass to Jaylyn Williams was batted down.
The third quarter was a defensive struggle with both teams having two possessions and being forced to punt each time. The Letcher Central offense finally got going and had an eight-play 69-yard drive for a touchdown. Hunter Hall ran it in from seven yards out and LCC successfully went for two, with Blair running it in for the conversion to give the Cougars a 22-15 lead with 8:43 to go in the fourth quarter.
Perry Central quickly answered again when Pray connected with receiver Tyler Lawson for a 33-yard touchdown and the extra point tied the score at 22 with 5:24 to play in the game.
Neither offense could mount a serious scoring chance and the game went into overtime. PCC won the toss and elected to play defense first.
The Cougars went for it on fourth-and-one and Hunter Hall muscled his way into the end zone for the touchdown. The extra point was wide right to give LCC a 28-22 lead.
On Perry Central’s first play from the 10-yard line, running back Damon Tobler took the handoff and broke two tackles before diving for the end zone and an apparent touchdown. The officials got together and decided that Tobler had fumbled before crossing the plane of the end zone. Furthermore, the ball had gone out of the back of the end zone, and by rule that gives the ball over to the defense, which in this case ended the game.
The controversial call gave the Cougars a thrilling 28-22 victory and put LCC into the first place tie with Whitley County.
Coach Holcomb’s squad showed great resolve in pulling out the crucial victory. Zane Blair threw for 2 touchdowns and Hunter Hall had two touchdowns on the ground including the game winner in overtime. Blair and Hall were WXKQ’s co-offensive players of the game. Tanner Lucas was the radio station’s choice for defensive player of the game for the Cougars.
Kickoff for Friday night’s game is set for 7:30.