BETSY LAYNE, Ky. — Head coach Andrew West and the Phelps Hornets scored their first win of the coronavirus-shortened 2020 football season with a 54-26 road victory against the Betsy Layne Bobcats on Friday night.
After a fumble recovery by PHS (1-2) senior linebacker Dominick Francis, the blue and silver drove 76 yards down the field in just two plays, including a 71-yard run by Francis down to the Betsy Layne five yard line.
Then, senior fullback Seth Mayhorn would find pay dirt on a run from five yards away. Francis’ extra point was true, and the Hornets would take a 7-0 lead with 7:57 left in the first frame.
Mayhorn would intercept a pass from BLHS (0-3) junior quarterback Chase Mims on the second Bobcat drive, and on the following Phelps drive, Francis would attempt a field goal that fell just short of the goalpost in the end zone.
Phelps would fumble the ball away on their next two possessions, while head coach Scotty Mccoy’s team lost a fumble of their own on their fourth drive.
However, with 4:26 left in the second quarter, the Hornets would crack the scoreboard again on a six-yard touchdown run by Mayhorn. The PAT attempt was no good, and the visitors would increase their advantage to 13-0.
On the ensuing drive for the Bobcats, they would march 75 yards in 10 plays and cap the possession with a nine-yard touchdown toss from Mims to junior wide receiver Brady Robinson. The two-point conversion try was no good, and the score would remain 13-6 in favor of Phelps.
West’s squad would get the ball back one more time before the intermission and go 54-yards in just four plays, aided by a BLHS facemask penalty.
To cap off the drive, freshman signal caller Steven Layne would dump a pass off to junior receiver Cainan Land, and he would dash 13 yards for a score. Mayhorn would snag a throw for a successful two-point try, and with 10 seconds left in the half, Phelps would propel their lead to 21-6.
Betsy Layne would receive the ball to kickoff the second half and in four plays, they would drive 67 yards and end the possession on a seven-yard touchdown scamper by Mims.
The Bobcats would convert the two-point conversion on a pass from Mims to Hamilton, and the Hornet lead was reduced to 21-14 with 10:31 left in the period.
PHS would respond on their next drive, however. Starting at their own 40 yard line, Francis would take a handoff and rush 60 yards to the house. He also converted the extra point to push his club’s lead to 28-14 with 10:16 left in the third frame.
Midway through the third quarter, the bees would sting the Cats again. An eight play, 71-yard drive would be capped off by a five-yard run to the end zone by Mayhorn with 5:05 left in the quarter. The point-after try was no good, but the Hornet lead would swell to 34-14.
Phelps continued their offensive onslaught near the end of the third quarter, coming through on a 16-yard touchdown dash by Francis with 1:29 left in the period. Sophomore running back Bryson Lane would run to pay dirt for a successful two-point attempt, and the lead was extended to 42-14 for the road team.
Betsy Layne would respond with a scoring drive of their own before the quarter was over, though. As the third frame expired, senior wide receiver Nicholas Howell would catch a pass from Mims and make his way 41 yards to the house. The two-point conversion was no good, and the lead stood at 42-20 Hornets.
On the ensuing PHS possession, they began in great field position at the Bobcat 29 yard line, and in four plays, they would increase their lead on a 27-yard pass to Land on 4th and 8 with 11:28 left in the game.
The two-point attempt was no good, and the Hornets would continue their big offensive day, increasing their lead to 48-20.
The Bobcats would score on a 19-yard touchdown catch with 8:18 left in the game courtesy of Howell. The two-point try was unsuccessful, and BLHS cut into the Hornet lead at 48-26.
Phelps would notch a garbage time touchdown on a run to pay dirt by senior fullback Christian Land with 6:50 left in the fourth quarter. The two-point conversion was no good, and the Phelps lead now stood at 54-26, which would be the final score.
Francis was unstoppable on the ground all night for the Hornets, rushing the ball 16 times for 269 yards and two scores. Mayhorn notched 112 yards rushing on 15 carries and scored three touchdowns. Francis also had a solid night through the air, completing six of nine passes for a total of 108 yards and two touchdown tosses.
As a team, Phelps rushed for 474 yards and passed for 116, gaining 590 yards of total offense on the night. West could not have been happier with the team’s performance.
“It feels good,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of mistakes in the past two weeks that have cost us the ballgame, because we had close games with both Martin County and Shelby Valley, and those are two pretty top-notch programs in class 2A. So, we played them both tough, but I feel like we could have won both of those games if we would have done a few more things right, so everything started coming together tonight and falling into place.”
The aforementioned Francis had a great night running the ball, and West had nothing but praise for him and his performance.
“Last week, he became the all-time leading rusher in Phelps high school football history,” West said. “Having a kid like him, he’s just on a different level. He’s an animal. It doesn’t matter what position you put him in, he’ll play anywhere on the field. It’s a blessing to have a kid like that.”
West is taking a conservative approach to how he and his team approach the rest of the season after this win.
“Right now, we’re just going to take it game by game, and every game we’re going to take it series by series, play by play and quarter by quarter and we’re going to do what we need to do to move the ball down the field offensively and make stops on defense,” he said. “Do I feel like we could have got more stops tonight? Yes I do. Just game by game and moving forward. Right now, our goal is to win a playoff game, and to do that we have to beat either Pikeville or Hazard, two pretty top-notch programs in class A. That’s the ceiling I’m setting for the boys, lets go win a playoff game and make history here at Phelps.”
With the win, the Hornets improve to 1-2 on the season while the Bobcats fell to 0-3.
Phelps’ next game against Eminence on October 3rd was cancelled (RPI per policy) due to COVID-19, but the Hornets picked up a game against Class 3A Pike Central.
The Hawks were scheduled to play Tug Valley on Friday night but the game was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions in West Virginia. Instead they will host the Hornets on Friday night in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Score by quarters:
PHS (1-2): 7 14 21 12
BLHS (0-3): 0 6 14 6