By Kyle Lovern
GOODY, Ky. – Country boys can survive.
The Belfry Pirates showed why they are one of the top football schools in the Bluegrass State, regardless of classification and school size.
On a hot and muggy Friday night, the Class 3A Pirates took on Lexington Henry Clay, a Class 6A city school. Many felt that the Blue Devils were favored, even some of the Belfry fans thought it was going to be a difficult task.
But in the end Belfry’s powerful running game and hard-hitting defense pulled out a 27-7 victory in the 2014 season opener, the 30th annual Pike County Bowl played at CAM Stadium at Goody, Ky.
The game got started very later because the officials held up the preliminary game between Pike Central and Somerset, which was supposed to start at 6:05 p.m., because of the heat index.
So the Belfry-Henry Clay game did not get started till around 10 p.m.
The Pirates didn’t waste any time showing the visitors they could match up with them.
Senior fullback Austin Hatfield bulled his way into the end zone on a 2-yard carry capping a nice Belfry offensive drive with 7:19 left in the first quarter. Sophomore Austin Woolum kicked the extra point to make it 7-0.
On the ensuing kickoff Belfry’s Devin Varney recovered a fumble on the Henry Clay 27 yard line.
The Pirates of Coach Philip Haywood took advantage of the turnover and four plays later senior quarterback Keaton Taylor scored from seven yards out on a keeper around the left side. Woolum’s kick made it 14-0 with 5:04 remaining in the first quarter.
Woolum, one of the best young kickers in the state, booted a 24 yard field goal with 9:20 left in the half to make it 17-0.
Henry Clay got its only score on a kickoff return in the second quarter as speedy Rhoman James broke a couple of tackles and raced 82 yards for a TD. The conversion kick was good to make it 17-7 heading into the dressing room at the half.
Hatfield was able to muscle his way in for two more scores. Henry Clay’s defense had no answer for Belfry’s patented running game, a mixture of speed and power.
The stocky Hatfield led the Pirates with 160 yard on 24 carries. Junior Xondre “X’ Willis had 57 yards on nine tries, sophomore Andrew Fletcher had 32 yards on 11 carries, and sophomore Cameron Catron had 31 yards on the ground, but had to leave the game with a possible broken collarbone in the first half.
Keaton Taylor completed 4-of-6 passes for 41 yards. He also ran the ball six times for 20 yards and a score.
Belfry had 328 rushing yards.
On defense Belfry busted Henry Clay in the mouth all night long, halting the speedy Blue Devils on most drives.
Defensively T.J. Dotson, Kaleb Edwards and Nate Sanger each had nine tackles for Belfry. Dakota Stanley had eight stops, while Cole Bentley and Ray Horton each had seven each. Austin Hall had six tackles and an interception. Hatfield had five tackles.
Varney and Taylor both had fumble recoveries.
The Pirates will host Harlan County this Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Score by quarters:
Henry Clay (1-0) … 0 7 0 0 - 7
Belfry (0-1) … 14 3 6 6 - 29
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)