PARIS, Ky. – For the fourth straight season the Belfry Pirates will be heading to the Class AAA state championship game.
The Pirates made it to the title game this week in Bowling Green with a 21-13 win over previously unbeaten Bourbon County on Friday night in Paris, Ky.
It was the first road playoff game of the season for the Pond Creek bunch, but Coach Philip Haywood’s team, like it has done all season, found a way to win.
Junior Austin Hatfield scored two touchdowns for the Pirates (13-) and senior quarterback Sani Warren scored the other as the Pirates pulled out the big semi-final victory on a cold November night.
Belfry fell behind in the first quarter as Bourbon County’s Dalton Pope scored from one yard out after a nice drive by the Colonels. The extra point attempt failed, but the home team led 6-0 and had some momentum.
Belfry took the lead right before the first half as Hatfield hit pay-dirt. Freshman Austin Woolum kicked the extra point to give the Pirates a 7-6 lead heading into the dressing room at halftime.
The touchdown was set up on a good run by Warren, who was hit late as he stepped out of bounds. The personal foul penalty tacked on a few more yards and put the Pirates in scoring position.
Belfry took the lead in the third quarter when Warren scored on a keeper to give Belfry some breathing room.
The Pirates sealed the win with a TD run by Hatfield in the final quarter. Both times Woolum kicked the extra points.
Bourbon County got one more score to cut into the lead, but the Pirates defense held on to pull out the big victory.
Senior Justin Johnson led Belfry in rushing yardage with 115 yards on 18 carries. Hatfield was next with 61 yards on 16 carries, while Warren had 46 yards on 10 attempts and a TD, while Trenity Carr had 43 yards on 13 carries.
The Pirates picked up 25 first downs and rushed for 288 yards against a tough Bourbon County defense.
Warren was 4-of-5 passing for 40 yards, giving Belfry 328 total yards on offense.
Belfry had one turnover – a lost fumble in the first half. They did cough up the ball three times, but were able to cover the pigskin on two of those fumbles.
Belfry’s stingy defense only allowed the Colonels 128 yards of total offense.
Belfry had on interceptions, which was made by Warren.
Freshman RayQuan Horton led the team in tackles with nine, while another 9th grader, Austin Hall made seven stops. Hayden Hatfield and Austin Hatfield each made five tackles.
The Belfry coaches were pleased with the team effort on defense. Many stops were gang tackles by the Pirates.
“Our young kids grew up last night,” said longtime Belfry assistant coach Todd Cassell. “We had some senior leadership and we pursued the ball and filled the lanes. They have a good team and we held our breath every time they touched the ball.”
“We had read where they had been scoring 40 points a game,” he added. “But we worked hard in practice. We made some mistakes, but they played hard. That’s all you can ask.”
On offense, Belfry had a few penalties, but they overcame those.
“We came out a little excited on the offensive side of the football,” Cassell said. “But, we have played well on the road all season. We have traveled a lot and found ways to win.”
That regular season road experience paid big dividends in the semi-final game.
Belfry will head back to Bowling Green this week for the championship game at a familiar playing surface for the Pike County high school. The game will be Friday afternoon, December 6, at 3:00 p.m. at Feix Field, Houchens/LT Smith Stadium on the campus of Western Kentucky University.
The difference this time around is three-time defending Class 3A champion Central High School of Louisville will not be there to meet the Pirates. The Yellowjackets lost to Wayne County 17-7 last week.
Belfry fell to Central 46-7 in 2010, 15-14 in 2011 and 12-6 in 2012.
The Pirates’ title opponent this Friday will be Wayne County, 34-10 winners at Paducah Tilghman on Friday. Wayne County comes in at 14-0.
Belfry’s lone defeat this season was to Class 4A Johnson Central in the last regular season game of the year.
The Pirates have now won four straight playoff games since that loss.
Once again many of the Belfry fans made the trip to the playoff game in Paris, Ky. A sea of red is expected again for the championship game on Friday.
Score by quarters:
Belfry (13-1) …0 7 7 7 21
Bourbon (13-1) … 6 0 0 7 13