GOODY, KY - The Belfry Pirates came out of the halftime locker room and shut out Lexington Christian Academy during the second half of the 35th annual Pike County Bowl and pulled away for the 39-20 win after a competitive first half on Friday night at CAM Stadium.
Both teams traded blows in the first 24 minutes of play as Belfry (2-0) struck first after star sophomore Isaac Dixon broke loose for a 50-yard touchdown on their opening drive to give them a 6-0 lead with 9:27 left in the first. Dixon once again led the Pirates in rushing as he ran for 207 yards on 25 carries and two scores on the night, after totaling 168 yards and three touchdowns in their "week zero" win.
LCA (1-1) quickly answered back on their first drive as senior quarterback Jayden Barnhardt found star receiver Dearious Smith for a nice 46-yard touchdown reception as he made a couple guys miss on his way to the end zone. After the two-point try was no good, the game was knotted up at six apiece.
On the ensuing Pirate drive, the Eagle defense forced Belfry into a fourth and five at the LCA 41-yard line and 45 year head coach Philip Haywood decided to go for it but they were stopped short and turned the ball over on downs.
The Eagles wasted no time grabbing their first lead of the game on their first play after the turnover as sophomore running back Xavier Brown broke loose down the sideline and sped 61-yards to paydirt. After Andrew Dobbs point after try was good LCA took a 13-6 lead with 3:44 remaining in the first.
The Pirates quickly punched back on their next possession as they only needed three plays to find the endzone once again as senior back Ben Bentley, who announced his commitment to Youngstown State earlier in the day, trucked a defender and raced in from 28-yards out. Grayson Cook's PAT was cook and the game was knotted back up at 13 apiece with just over two minutes left in the first quarter.
On the next LCA possession, the Pirate defense stepped up to make a play as senior defensive back Isaiah Birchfield picked off his first of two passes in the game to set his team up with good field position in Eagle territory.
They quickly capitalized on the turnover as on their second play Dixon raced in from 15-yards out for his second score and gave the Pirates the 19-13 lead with 32.1 seconds left in the opening period after Cook's PAT was wide left.
The Belfry defense stepped up again on the next LCA possession and quickly forced a three and out as defensive end Brad Lowe and Cook teamed up to sack Barnhardt at the LCA one-yard line forcing a punt out of the back of the endzone which set up the Pirates with excellent field position at the Eagle 38-yard line.
They would only need three plays from there to extend the lead as Bentley broke free again this time for a 34-yard score. Cook's PAT split the uprights and the Pirates took a 26-13 lead with 8:28 left in the half.
LCA once again wasted zero time responding back as they scored on their first play from scrimmage for the second time as Barnhardt found Smith on a screen pass and the speedster raced 65-yards to the endzone. Dobbs kick was good and the BHS lead was cut to 26-20 with 8:13 still left in the first half.
After the quick start for both teams the pace of the game slowed down tremendously as neither team could muster any offense for the remainder of the half and the score still read 26-20 heading into the halftime locker room.
Coach Haywood and his state championship staff went made some adjustments at the break and they looked like a different team in the second half of play, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
In six LCA possessions in the second half, the Belfry defense forced four three and out and picked off two passes as they completely shut down the explosive Eagle offense that gave them fits with big plays in the first half.
Senior fullback Peyton Hensley finally got his name in the scoring column early in the fourth quarter as he took a pitch from Dixon out of the 'Wildcat" formation and sped 45-yards to the house to push the lead back up to 32-20. After the two-point try was no good, the Pirates led by 12 with 10:22 left in the game.
Hensley got his second rushing touchdown of the game late in the fourth to officially salt the game away as he trucked through defenders for a 23-yard run and Cook's PAT pushed the lead to the final tally of 39-20 with 3:48 left in the game.
Hensley had a big game for the Pirates, especially in the second half, as he ran the rock 17 times for 142 yards and the two scores. Bentley rushed the ball 16 times for 85 yards and two scores of his own but was dealing with cramps for much of the second half.
In total, the Pirates rushed the ball 60 times for 437 total yards led by Dixon's 207 yards performance. They did not complete a pass for the second straight week as sophomore quarterback Israel Canterbury finished 0-2 in the air.
Defensively, the Pirates held a team to less than 100 rushing yards for the second straight week as they limited the Eagles to only 93 yards on the ground, with Brown leading the way with 71 yards on six carries and a score.
Barnhardt was 13-26 passing for 195 yards and the two scores but also tossed three interceptions on the day. Birchfield led the Pirates with the two picks while junior linebacker Seth Mounts also picked off a pass in the second half after Cook tipped it at the line of scrimmage.
Senior defensive lineman Dylan Goff also had a big game with multiple tackles for loss and a fumble recovery late in the first half.
The win for the Pirates improves them to 2-0 as they enter their first of two bye weeks in the 2019 season. It was also win No. 440 in the legendary career of coach Haywood as he continues to add to the all-time record for most wins in the state of Kentucky.
Belfry will be back in action on the road on Sept. 13 at Archbishop Alter, a football powerhouse in Ohio located just outside of Dayton in Kettering. The Knights were 13-2 in 2018 and finished as the runner up in Ohio's Division III.
Good news for Pirate fans, junior quarterback and strong safety Brett Coleman is expected to practice during the bye week and step back into the starting lineup for the high profile match up in Ohio.
Score by quarters
LCA (1-1): 13 7 0 0 - 20
BHS (2-0): 19 7 0 13 - 39
BHS: 50-yard run Dixon (Cook's PAT no good) 9:27
LCA: 46-yard pass Barnhardt to Smith (Two-point no good) 6:57
LCA: 61-yard run Brown (Dobbs PAT good) 3:44
BHS: 28-yard run Bentley (Cook's PAT good) 2:15
BHS: 15-yard run Dixon (Cook's PAT no good) 32.1
BHS: 34-yard run Bentley (Cook's PAT Good) 8:28
LCA: 65-yard pass Barnhardt to Smith (Dobb's PAT good) 8:13
BHS: 45-yard run Hensley (Two-point no good) 10:22
BHS: 23-yard run by Hensley (Cook's PAT Good) 3:48
Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.