Fresh off a 62-29 win over Greenup County, the Letcher County Central Cougars are scheduled to begin post-season play Friday when they meet Pulaski County (7-3) in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs. Kickoff for the game, to be played on the Maroons’ home field, is set for 7:30 p.m.
The Cougars made the long trek to Greenup County last Friday and came away with a much needed victory. The Cougar offense was explosive the entire night and the defense held Greenup County to 66 yards and no points in the first half to give LCC a 30 point lead heading into halftime.
The second win of the season will give the young Cougars some confidence heading into their game at Pulaski County.
The Letcher Central kick return team could not get a handle on the opening kickoff and Greenup County recovered at the LCC 28 yard line. The Cougar defense held strong and didn’t allow any yardage. The field goal attempt was missed wide left and the early defensive stand energized the team.
LCC running back Chris Tyree busted a 19-yard run right up the middle to get the ball almost to midfield. Facing 3rd and 8, LCC went to a spread formation and quarterback Zane Blair found receiver Ryan Alzuraqi all alone running a seam route for a 51-yard touchdown. Tyree ran in the twopoint conversion to give LCC an 8-0 lead with 8:11 left in the first quarter.
Greenup County started at their own 35-yard line and on 3rd and 5 Cougar defensive lineman Dalton Gibson pressured Musketeer quarterback Jared Hunt forcing an incompletion and punt. Alzuraqi caught a 17-yard pass on the first play of the possession. On 3rd and 5 receiver Josh Boggs took a handoff on an end around and gained 11 yards to convert for a first down. After a 10-yard run by Tyree to get in the red zone, the Cougars fumbled on a handoff exchange and Greenup County recovered at their own 17-yard line.
The Musketeers were forced to punt after Cougar defensive lineman Jacob Kiser hit Hunt when he was attempting to throw. On the first play of the LCC offensive possession Houston Watts caught a wide receiver screen pass from Blair and tiptoed down the sideline for a 41-yard score. Tyree ran in the two-point conversion again to increase the lead to 16-0.
Hunt completed a pass to re- ceiver Rusty Wells for 12 yards and Greenup County’s first 1st down of the game with under a minute left in the first quarter. The next play Hunt fumbled the snap and LCC recovered on their own 37-yard line.
The first play of the second quarter resulted in an interception by Greenup County on a leaping grab at their own 10-yard line. Hunt fumbled a snap again and LCC came out of the pile with the ball. The 3rd and goal play by the Letcher Central offense was stopped short but a facemask penalty by the defense gave the Cougars an automatic first down. On the next play Tyree ran over a defender to score from 3 yards out. The score stayed at 22-0 after the two-point conversion was not successful.
Greenup County running back Dustin Stout had an excellent kickoff return all the way to the LCC 43 yard line. Cougar defender Nick Mullins recovered a fumble on the next play to thwart the scoring threat. Alzuraqi caught a 46-yard pass to take the ball to the Musketeer 12- yard line. A holding penalty negated a touchdown run by Chris Tyree on the next play and the Cougars eventually turned the ball over on downs.
The LCC defense shut the Greenup County offense down once again and on 4th down the Musketeers tried a fake punt and Mullins sniffed it out and tackled the ball carrier well short of the first down. Tyree had another score brought back by a holding penalty to force a 3rd and 14. Zane Blair threw a strike to Alzuraqi for a 22- yard gain and one play later he found Houston Watts for a five-yard touchdown. Alzuraqi caught a pass in the back of the end zone to convert for two points. Cougar defenders Willie Smith and Jordan Boggs combined on a sack to run out the clock and LCC headed to halftime up 30-0 and in full control of the game.
The Cougars played a flawless first half on the defensive side of the ball and gave up only 66 yards of total offense. The LCC offense looked explosive once again and had 304 yards of total offense but had a couple costly penalties and turnovers. Zane Blair completed eight passes on 12 attempts for 213 yards and three touchdowns. Chris Tyree had eight carries for 45 yards and a score and caught two passes for 31 yards. Ryan Alzuraqi caught four passes for 136 yards and 1 TD. Houston Watts had two catches for 46 yards and two touchdowns.
Greenup County received the opening kickoff of the second half and Mullins made consecutive tackles on running plays to force a punt. Blair and Alzuraqi connected once again for a 16-yard gain. Three plays later facing 4th and 3 running back Hunter Hall caught a screen pass from Blair and broke three tackles on his way to a 38- yard touchdown to make the score 36-0.
The Greenup County offense finally got going and the nine-play, 62-yard drive culminated in a oneyard touchdown run by Stout. The extra point was good to cut the lead to 36-7 with 4:37 left in the third quarter. Tyree had a great kickoff return into Greenup County territory. Two plays later Blair threw a bomb to receiver Boggs who hauled it in for a 47-yard score. The two-point conversion was no good.
Greenup County answered the score quickly with a 27-yard touchdown run by running back Ryan Byrd to make the score 42- 14. LCC recovered the onside attempt by the Musketeers. Tyree ran up the middle for 15 yards. Then Hunter Hall had a 26-yard gain around the left side. On the next play Hall scored untouched from four yards out to increase the lead to 48-14 at the end of the third quarter.
Greenup County marched the ball into the red zone and then tried a play action pass that didn’t fool LCC defender Willie Smith who clobbered Hunt for a sack. On the next play LCC committed a costly facemask penalty to give an automatic first down and led to a one-yard touchdown run by Matt Lawson. The two-point conversion was good to cut the lead to 48-22.
The onside kick attempt went out of bounds and on the first play of the drive Tyree ran up the middle for a 47-yard touchdown to make the score 54-22 with 9:47 left in the game after the two-point attempt was no good. Greenup County started at its own 33-yard line and its drive ended with a missed field goal attempt.
Tyree struck once again, this time with a 68-yard touchdown run. Tyree ran in the two-point conversion to put LCC ahead 62-22. Musketeer’s running back Dustin Stout scored from two yards out after setting it up with a 44-yard run. The extra point was good to cut the lead to 62-29. Letcher Central quickly drove the ball to the Greenup County 3-yard line but showed good sportsmanship and took a knee to run out the clock.
The 62-29 victory by the Cougars showed the potential fans have been waiting on all season. The offense had over 600 yards of total yardage and Zane Blair finished the game completing 12 passes on 18 attempts for 317 yards and an impressive five touchdowns. The battering ram known as Chris Tyree ran around and over defenders all night long and gained 197 yards on 15 carries and three touchdowns. Ryan Alzuraqi was explosive and caught five passes for 152 yards. Houston Watts caught two touchdown passes. Hunter Hall gained 73 yards on the ground and scored both a rushing and receiving touchdown.
Nick Mullins led the defense and was all over the field making plays on his way to a 11-tackle game. The whole unit play exceptionally well with Willie Smith, Jacob Kiser, Jordan Boggs, Dalton Gibson, and a host of others reeking havoc in the backfield. The secondary played it best game of the year and this young LCC team definitely will take some positive from this game and they head to Pulaski County Friday.