Harris is the nation's No. 1 running back, the state's Mr. Football front-runner and University of Kentucky's top recruiting target
BEREA, Ky. – Damien Harris was the king in more ways than one on a thrilling Friday night.
Harris – the nation’s No. 1 running back, the state’s Mr. Football front-runner and the University of Kentucky’s top recruiting target -was dazzling and dominant, rushing 21 times for 353 yards and seven touchdowns, including the 2-yard winner on a direct snap at the final horn, to lead Madison Southern High past visiting South Laurel 54-51.
He was also crowned Homecoming King at halftime.
He ruled before intermission, too: running for 300 yards and five TDs. He had a TD run of 65 yards on the game’s first play from scrimmage. He scored from 50 yards on his second carry.
He also had touchdown runs of 8, 64 and 25 yards in the first half. He added a 35-yard score and the the game winner in the fourth quarter. Coach Jon Clark said it was a career high in yardage for Harris and tied a career high for touchdowns.
“To me, it’s typical Damien,” Clark said. “He played outstanding tonight. He played well in everything he did. He’s a good football player, man. We’re used to seeing it every night now.”
Harris, who is down to UK, Alabama, Florida, Ohio State and Texas A&M in one of the nation’s most high-profile recruitments, had assistant coaches for the Crimson Tide and the Gators on the sideline at the game. Harris’ mother said he’ll take an unofficial visit to UK on Saturday for the Wildcats’ game against Vanderbilt.
South Laurel, which trailed 41-25 at halftime, rallied to take the lead with 22 seconds left on a 19-yard quarterback run. It was a gutsy performance by the Cardinals (1-4), who couldn’t stop Harris but answered every call with big plays of their own on offense.
However, Madison Southern and Harris got the ball last.
After Harris returned the ensuing kickoff, he went down with a leg cramp. With him out of the game for one play, the Eagles executed a long pass to the 2-yard line and called timeout with one second left. Harris came back in to take the snap, push a pile ahead and find the end zone, a signature cap on a game in which he displayed the power and blazing speed that has made him the state’s most highly regarded prospect in years.
“On the last play of the game, you feel confident about it, there’s no question,” Clark said of Harris, who declined to speak with the media after the game. “A player like him gives you confidence you’re going to end up in the end zone.”
Harris now has 1,278 yards and 19 touchdowns rushing on the season for Madison Southern (5-0).
Check out some video highlights from earlier in the season of Harris against Madison Central, a game in which UK coach Mark Stoops made a splash by arriving in a helicopter.