Berea Community's remarkable turnaround continued with a gritty performance Friday on the road.
The backfield combination of senior quarterback Jaylen Whitaker and sophomore running back Jaiden Cunningham led the Pirates to a 21-7 win over Harlan.
After losing 43-straight games over four seasons, Berea (2-0) has a three-game winning streak.
The Pirates had not won three-consecutive games since Aug. 29, 2009.
“I thought both teams played not to lose. I thought both teams played tight,” Berea coach Aaron Stepp. “I know they had some quarterback issues, and I thought it was odd some of the mistakes we were making. (Harlan coach) Eric (Perry) is doing a great job over here. I said at halftime that this was a dogfight, and they are not going away. They wouldn’t lay down, and that’s a testament to leadership and coaching. It was a heck of a football game.”
Cunningham ran for 107 yards on 18 carries and scored two touchdowns to lead the Berea offense. Whitaker added 100 yards rushing and a touchdown on 15 carries with a touchdown. He also completed 11-of-18 passes for 51 yards.
Berea drove 82 yards in nine plays in the game’s opening series, aided by three Harlan penalties. Cunningham picked up 18 yards and Ty Thompson had a 19-yard catch to set up Cunningham’s 1-yard run on third down with 6:59 left in the opening period. Sean Fagin hit the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Harlan answered quickly with the help of a 70-yard kickoff return by Juan Bynum to the Harlan 15. Ethan Clem scored two plays later on a 13-yard run. Bynum’s extra point tied the game with 5:06 left in the first quarter.
Fagin went for a field goal from the 35 yards but it fell well short. Mills fielded the ball mid-way in the end zone and returned it 78 yards to set up the Dragons at the Berea 27. A pass interference penalty gave the Dragons a first down on the 11, but the drive stalled as Clem was stopped on the 4 on fourth down.
Senior lineman Jordan Howard gave the Dragons another chance when he recovered a fumble on the Berea 14. Bynum went 10 yards on the next play, but fumbled two plays later and Clayton Martinez recovered on the 1.
A high snap to Bynum on a punt set up the second Berea score, a 5-yard run by Cunningham late in the first half. Fagin’s second extra point gave the Pirates a 14-7 halftime lead.
A 10-yard touchdown run by Whitaker with 6:21 left in the game, followed by Fagin’s extra point, closed the scoring. Berea drove 29 yards in six plays after Joe Collins recovered a fumble.
Berea plays host to Caverna next Saturday.