GOODY, Ky. – Many fans expected an old-fashioned smash-mouth, low scoring football game when two of eastern Kentucky’s best high school teams battled Friday night. The Johnson Central Golden Eagles defeated the Belfry Pirates at CAM Stadium as the two teams combined for 574 yards in the first half. Belfry had 296 and JCHS had 278 total yards in the half as the Eagles led 34-21 heading into the dressing room at the half.
It was a hard fought game, but the final score of 54-28 may have surprised many fans from both communities.
Johnson Central struck first as Daymion Belcher took the handoff on the second play of the game and took it to the house from 61 yards away. The extra point kick was no good, but the Eagles led 6-0 with 11:11 left in the first quarter.
It didn’t take Belfry long to answer. Starting out on the 20 yard line senior Justin Johnson broke free and outran the Eagle’s defense for an 80 yard TD. Freshman Austin Woolum kicked the extra point and the hometown Pirates led 7-6 with 10:57 left in the opening quarter.
That was the first time Johnson Central had trailed in a game all season.
Johnson Central started the next drive on its own 46. Six plays later J. P. Gound scored from five yards out. Jordan Young dove in for the 2-point conversion and the visitors regained the lead at 14-7 with 7:53 left in the first quarter.
Johnson Central kicker Tyler Pack booted the ball deep into the Belfry end zone most of the night and the Pirates had to start from their own 20 all night long.
On Belfry’s second possession, quarterback Sani Warren rolled out on an option and fumbled the ball. It was recovered by Brad Auxier of JCHS on the Belfry 32 yard line. Dalton Adkins hauled in a pass to move his team to the 3-yard line. Then on the next play Young scored another TD. The conversion was no good, however JCHS led 20-7 with 5:02 left in the first.
Belfry’s offense moved the ball into Golden Eagle territory on their next possession, however the drive eventually stalled and the visitors took over on downs at the 41 yard line. On the third play from scrimmage Young took the handoff, found the seam and raced 52 yards for the score. The conversion pass was intercepted, but the Pirates trailed 26-7 as the first quarter soon ended.
Early in the second quarter Belfry senior Trenity Carr capped a nice drive with a 4-yard TD run. Woolum’s kick made it 26-14.
On the next possession by JCHS, the ball was coughed up on the second play of the drive. Belfry’s Warren recovered the fumble on the 49 yard line. Then Carr scored again after an 8-play, 51 yard drive. His 8-yard TD run and Woolum’s kick made it 26-21 with 4:56 left in the first half.
But Johnson Central wasn’t through. On the very first play of their next drive Young hit the seam and raced 63 yards for another touchdown. He also ran it in for the 2-point conversion to give his team a 34-21 lead with 4:38 left in the first half.
Belfry received the opening kickoff of the second half and once again started out from the 20 after the long touchback kick by Pack. The Pirates went 3-and-out punting the ball to JCHS. The Eagles took over on their own 46. Eight plays later Josh Dillon scored on a 16-yard run. The conversion failed, but JCHS had a 40-21 lead with 6:44 left in the third quarter.
On Belfry’s next drive, Justin Johnson fumbled and the turnover gave the ball back to the Eagles on the 27 yard line. Three plays later Young scored again for Coach Jim Matney from 11 yards out. Pack’s extra point kick made it 47-21 at the 5:12 mark of the third quarter.
Carr scored his third touchdown of the night on Belfry’s next drive with 23 seconds left in the quarter. Woolum’s kick was perfect and that cut the lead to 47-21.
The final quarter was all Johnson Central as they marched down the field, eating up over 9:40 of the clock on a 17-play drive that went 76 yards. Young scored again and Pack’s kick made it 54-28.
Young ended the game with 255 yards and five touchdowns for Johnson Central.
Belfry’s Johnson led his team with 169 yards on 14 carries and one score. Carr had three TDs and rushed for 110 yards on 14 carries. The Pirates finished with 350 total yards, 72 coming in the second half. BHS had 21 first downs.
The Pirates were playing without junior fullback Austin Hatfield who is still hampered by an ankle injury. He should be ready to go this week.
Defensively Belfry was led in tackles byHayden Hatfield, Cameron Catron, RayQuan Horton, Cole Bentley and Joey Duty.
The Eagles finished with 434 yards, 278 of that coming in the first half.
Coach Philip Haywood’s Belfry squad finishes the regular season with a fine 9-1 record and will host Jackson County in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs Friday night. Haywood will be going after his 300th career victory at Belfry in that contest.
Johnson Central is still perfect with a 10-0 record and will play host to Harrison County in the Class 4A playoffs this week.
Score by quarters:
JCHS (10-0) … 26 12 13 7 - 54
BHS (9-1) … 7 14 7 0 - 28