By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Middle is finally done with the Corbin Redhounds. The Jaguars won their 12th straight game with Saturday’s 30-12 decision in the second round of the Eighth Grade State Playoffs. One-fourth of those wins have come against Corbin.
“I’ve never had to play a team three times since I have been coaching,” North Laurel coach Dusty Carloftis said. “Corbin was well prepared. Their kids played hard.”
The Redhounds controlled the opening minutes of the game and were the first to find the end zone. Carloftis said his team never panicked and just stayed with their game plan.
“I knew Corbin would come ready to play,” Carloftis said. “Our kids were ready to play, but (Corbin) put in a couple of backs we hadn’t seen before. They ran a lot of different plays that we hadn’t seen.”
Michael Scott gave the Redhounds a 6-0 lead with a 14-yard touchdown on a reverse. The Redhounds had all the momentum after stopping North Middle on its first possession.
“We stayed the course. I doubted myself thinking maybe I should have added some knew stuff,” Carloftis said.
While the offense was trying to get on track, the defense made sure Corbin didn’t add to the lead. Matthew Sizemore recovered a fumble with 24 seconds in the first quarter.
“Our kids played great defense. We never panicked and never hung our head. We just keep on playing hard and that has been the theme of this team since we started winning,” Carloftis said.
The Jaguars took advantage of the good field position. North Middle opened the second quarter with Justin Moore blasting through a big hole for a 26-yard touchdown. Cole McWhorter ran for the conversion and an 8-6 North Middle lead.
The defense came up big again with Sizemore making an over-the-shoulder interception. The Redhounds were forced to throw after Jose Rodriguez made a diving tackle in the backfield to put Corbin in a hole.
Two big plays by Rodriguez were called back on penalties. The Jaguars still managed to make it a 16-6 game on a 13-yard run by McWhorter, Moore ran for the conversion.
The cold drizzle seemed to have an effect on both teams as North Laurel fumbled to open the third quarter.
“We had a couple of turnovers ourselves and we hadn’t had any in a while. We usually play good in slop. Maybe it was just one of those days. Hopefully we got them out of our system,” Carloftis said.
Again the defense made sure it didn’t hurt them when Gunner Jackson threw down the Corbin quarterback for a big loss. A bobbled snap on a punt attempt left North Middle with a short field. Nick Broughton‘s 13-yard run made it a 22-6 North Middle lead.
Corbin opened the fourth quarter with a 23-yard yard touchdown run by Caleb Myers. The conversion would have pulled the Redhounds within a touchdown. North Middle stopped the conversion to keep it a 22-12 game.
With 5:03 to play, North Middle closed out the scoring with a 4-yard run by Sizemore. McWhorter threw to Broughton for the conversion and a 30-12 final score.
North Laurel now faces Johnson Central Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in Paintsville.
The winner of that game will be region champion and will advance to the final four in the state.