Williamson’s TRUSTED news source.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to the Williamson Daily News.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.

LOG MOUNTAIN, Ky. — It was like deja vu on Friday night for Bell County as for the third straight season the Belfry Pirates ended the Bobcats season when the red-and-white came away with a 41-20 win in the Class 3A quarterfinals at Coach Dudley Hilton Field.

The win for for Belfry and head coach Philip Haywood secured their 16th Regional Championship victory since 2003 and sends them to the state semifinals where they will play at East Carter (11-3) on Black Friday.

“This was a great win for our kids, I’m really happy for them and our coaches and for our community,” coach Haywood said after the win “We did basically what we told our kids coming in was the key. We told them we had to stay focused and played really hard for the whole game, and I thought our focus was good the whole not and we played really hard. I thought Bell played really hard and we knew they were going to, we are just real pleased with the win.”

After both teams struggled on their first offensive possessions, both offenses came to life in the second quarter as Belfry continued to ride the legs of running backs Isaac Dixon, Zayne Hatfield, and Dre Young and marched their way down the field on one of their patented long, clock-chewing drives.

The Pirates capped off the 18 play, 82 yard drive that spanned over 10 minutes of game clock with a three-yard burst from sophomore fullback Dre Young and Gideon Ireson’s PAT gave Belfry the 7-0 lead with 7:51 left in the second quarter.

Head coach Dudley Hilton’s Bobcats had an answer for the Pirates however as on their ensuing possession they quickly moved down the field in only six plays and punched it into the end zone on an 18 yard run from Ethan Raby with 5:04 left in the first half.

The Bobcats only kicked three extra points on the season coming into the game so they went for the two point conversion but the run up the middle was stuffed by Zack Savage and Brayden Spears and BHS held on to the 7-6 lead.

After the quick score by Bell County Belfry then answered with a quick score of their own as Dixon broke off two long runs down the sideline, with the second being a bruising 30- yard score that put the Pirates ahead by eight at 14-6 with 3:13 still left in the first half.

The home-standing Bobcats moved the ball into Belfry territory but were running out of time at the end of the first half and Daniel Thomas heave into the end zone was intercepted by Dixon as time expired and BHS took the 14-6 lead into halftime.

The Pirates got a huge break to start the second half of play as they kicked off to Bell County but the Bobcat return men inexplicably let the ball bounce on the turf and allowed Belfry to just pounce on it and take over on the Bell 20 yard line.

“Things like that happen sometimes but that was a huge play in the game,” Haywood said. “They were set to get the ball there to start the second half and then we ended up getting it inside of the 20 yard line.”

Just a few plays later the Pirates capitalized on the miscue as Dixon took a hand-off and scampered around the right end for a three-yard score and Belfry took a 21-6 lead with 10:02 left in the third.

With all the momentum now on the side of the Pirates the “Big Red” defense made a huge stand on the next Bell County possession as they forced a punt to give the ball back to their offense.

Coach Haywood’s club now had complete control of the game as they once again went on one of their long, clock-chewing drives and took a 28-6 lead following a nifty 15-yard run by Zayne Hatfield with 3:40 left in the third.

The Bobcats wouldn’t quit as they went on a long drive of their own on their ensuing possession and got into the end zone for the second time of the game after a one yard plunge by Dawson Woolum. Daniel Thomas punched in the two-point try and Bell trimmed the Belfry lead to 28-14 with 9:40 left in the game.

After an unsuccessful onside kick by Bell County, Dixon promptly put a dagger into the heart of the Bell County faithful as he broke off a 44 yard highlight run on the Pirates first play from scrimmage and extended the BHS lead back to three scores at 35-14 with 9:28 in the fourth.

Dixon finished the contest with 177 total yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns as he had another monster performance for the third straight season against the Bobcats. In 2019 Dixon had 228 yards and three touchdowns as he was named the 3A State Championship Game Most Valuable Player while in 2020 he ran for 204 yards and scored four total TDs.

“He’s been a great performer for us week in and week out. No matter who we play he gets his yards,” Haywood said of Dixon. “He’s really good with our team, plays good defense, and blocks well too. A lot of people don’t know how good of a blocker he is. He does a lot of things for our football team.”

The Bobcats added one more score in the final minutes of the game as Thomas scored on a one yard run to cut the lead to 35-20 with 4:43 to go but it was all for naught as Belfry jumped on the ensuing onside kick and got those points right back on a 11 yard run from junior Braxton Hatfield as they extended the lead to 41-20 with 2:52 left.

The Pirates ran for six touchdowns and 361 yards on the ground in the win as Bell County had no answer for their ground-and-pound attack. Zayne Hatfield had one of his better games of the season as he ran for 82 total yards and a score on just seven carries while Young rumbled for 75 yards and a score on 16 carries from his fullback spot.

The Pirates improved their record to 7-6 on the season as they have now won seven of their last eight games after starting the season off with an 0-5 record for the first time since 1947.

“I’ve told everyone all along that if we could just play long enough then we would be a pretty good football team, we were just so inexperienced in a lot of positions at the beginning of the year,” coach Haywood said. “The way our kids have hung in there after our 0-5 start and still believing in themselves...A lot of people gave up on this team early on in the year and I’m just so proud of them and our coaches for just hanging in there and doing what we do which is get a little better one day at a time.”

The win was also the 463rd in the legendary career of coach Haywood as he continues to add to his all-time record. He will look to lead Belfry to their 14th appearance in the state championship game under his direction and 15th state title game appearance overall with a win at East Carter on Friday night.

Score by Quarters

BHS (7-6): 0 14 14 13 -41

BCHS (10-3): 0 6 0 14 — 20

First Quarter

No Scoring

Second Quarter

B: Dre Young 3 yard run (Gideon Ireson Kick Good) 7:51

BC: Ethan Raby 18 yard run (Run failed) 5:04

B: Dixon 30 yard run (Ireson Kick Good) 3:13

Third Quarter

B: Dixon 1 yard run (Ireson Kick Good) 10:02

B: Zayne Hatfield 15 yard run (Ireson Kick Good) 3:40

Fourth Quarter

BC: Dawson Woolum 1 yard run (Daniel Thomas run) 9:40

B: Dixon 44 yard run (Ireson Kick Good) 9:28

BC: Thomas 1 yard run (Run failed) 4:43

B: Braxton Hatfield 11 yard run (Ireson Kick No Good) 2:52

HD Media reporter Jarrid McCormick covers sports in Mingo County.

Recommended for you