A very successful first season under coach Larry French came to an end for the Middlesboro Yellow Jackets on Friday as they lost 50-15 at Breathitt County.
Middlesboro ends the year with a record of 8-4, their best mark since 2013.
“We probably won a few more ballgames than people thought we would win and I think that’s a credit to our kids and the way that they played. They tried to give us the best effort they possibly could give us. They started to learn a little bit of football as we went along,” French said. “You know, we won that first game at Garrard and that got us started on the right foot. We won a tough one at Lynn Camp, won a tough one against Pineville and those games are just a credit to your players because they made the plays. I’ve always said winners make plays and we made some plays and that won us a few ballgames.”
The Jackets came out on Friday hoping to make a few more of those plays and pull off the upset.
They opened with an onside kick that was recovered by Will Smith, but it was all Breathitt County from there.
Jacob Noble caught a pass from Braxton O’Hara and went 34 yards for a touchdown and O’Hara added a 10-yard TD run to put the Bobcats up 14-0 with 3:58 to play in the first quarter.
Breathitt converted a first down on a fake punt that set up a 19-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter.
The Bobcats recovered an onside kick of their own and Charle Collins went 40 yards on the very next play to extend the lead to 27-0.
“The name of the game in football is blocking and tackling and we couldn’t do that to them. They’re more physical than us, they’re a better football team than us. We’ve got a long way to go to where we can get to that level,” French said.
Ethan Barton had a nice return on the following kick and a 10-yard run by Jabari Kyle gave the Jackets a first down at the 40 but one play later Kyle was intercepted along the sideline.
Middlesboro’s defense stepped up on the next possession. O’Hara was dropped for a 10-yard loss after a fumbled handoff and Jay Tyler West sacked him on third down for a loss of four more yards. A bad snap on the punt led to Riley Gent tackling the punter for a loss of 16.
Eric Helton passed to West for nine yards and a first down at the Breathitt 26. Kyle had a seven yard run, but after a penalty and two incomplete passes the Jackets turned the ball over on downs.
Tyler Sturgill came up with a interception, but the Jackets were again forced to punt and Collins took it back 64 yards. Caleb Bogonko saved a touchdown by forcing Collins out at the two. O’Hara’s 2-yard run made it 35-0 at the half.
Breathitt recovered a fumble on the second half kickoff and O’Hara added a 7-yard TD run.
Middlesboro finally found a spark on their next offensive play as Kyle started to his right, then cut back through the line of scrimmage and outran the Bobcat secondary for a 50-yard touchdown run. Thaisan Sin’s kick made it 43-7.
Collins had a TD run for Breathitt before Kyle capped an 8-play fourth quarter drive with a 3-yard TD run and added the conversion to set the final at 50-15.
“We improved as the season went a long we just ran into a brick wall tonight and we just couldn’t break through,” French said. “We knew going in that it was going to be a challenge for us and we weren’t up for the challenge. Breathitt has a good football team and they have a chance to win a state 2A title.”