By Robert Clark
All good things must come to an end.
Madison Southern’s record-setting and historic season ended Friday with a loss on the road to Harlan County, 41-24, in the second round of the Class 5A Playoffs.
Despite the final score, the game was much closer than that margin.
At the start of the third quarter the Eagles trailed the Black Bears 28-24 and had an opportunity to take the lead, but later punt the ball.
“We played a great football team,” Southern coach Jon Clark said. “We had the opportunities. Their defense brought constant pressure.”
Only four plays into the game, Southern’s Adam Simpson found Damien Harris for a 72-yard touchdown giving the Eagles the lead 7-0.
The Eagles knew going into the game the Black Bears relied on a heavy rushing attack. The Eagles forced the game’s first turnover, forcing a fumble and would get two first downs and fail to convert a fourth-down conversion.
Harlan County would capitalize on several first downs on the ground and would convert on third-and-four when Treyvon Martin would take the ball in the end zone to tie the game.
The Eagles’ next possession would be three and out and the
Eagles would depend on their defense, which would stand strong, holding the Bears on an attempted fourth-down conversion.
The Eagles struggled to get the running game involved and costly penalties would pin them back. The Bears took advantage, scoring a touchdown to go up 14-7.
Despite facing a third-and-17, Adam Simpson would find John Williams for 79 yards, which led to a field goal, cutting into the Black Bears, 14-10.
The Eagles defense, which spent most of the game on the field, forced the game’s second turnover where the Eagles could not establish any offense against the bigger and more rested Harlan defense.
The Black Bears would open up their next series when Scott Bailey found Cole Wilson 56 yards for a touchdown giving Harlan the lead 21-10 with only 45 seconds before halftime.
That left even time for Southern
Harris took the ball 83 yards for his second touchdown, getting the Eagles back with four points (21-17).
Harlan opened the second half with the first score. Martin rushed for his third touchdown, this time 88 yards.
Despite the scoring consistency of the Black Bears, Madison Southern was able to hang with them. Devante Linville had 62-yard reception and Harris took it in for his third touchdown, making it 28-24.
When senior John Williams intercepted quarterback Scott Bailey the Eagles’ offense would once again go three-and-out.
“We are so close,” Clark said. “We had the opportunities and showed we can play with anybody.”
The Eagles defense gave up two more touchdowns to Jake Middleton in the games last four minutes.
“We have come along way from last season,” Clark said. “These seniors have set the standard here and our young guys will carry on the tradition that they set in place.”
The Eagles finished the season with a winning record, 18 school record a playoff victory and put in place the necessary things to grow a high school program.