The Hazard Bulldogs opened their 2014 football season in the Pike County Bowl. Their opponent would be fellow Class A member, the Pikeville Panthers. Hazard fell to the Panthers in last year’s Pike County Bowl 62-50.
The Hazard defense controlled the tempo early in the contest, picking up an interception and a fumble. The to and fro left the Bulldogs in perfect position to pick up the game’s first touchdown. Several carries by Brandon Jones resulted in a 4-yard touchdown run (6-0).
Pikeville got a good return on the ensuing kickoff after a lateral opened up a running lane. The Panthers finished off the drive of a short run, but could not complete the conversion (6-6).
The Panthers kept the momentum in the opening moments of the second period, and punched the ball into the end zone once again. This time, Pikeville made good on the conversion, giving them the 6-14 advantage.
The Bulldogs looked to be in trouble on their next drive, but a 29-yard run by Brandon Jones on third down put Hazard in Pikeville territory. Jason Johnson then jumped over the Panther defense to haul in a Tanner Morgan pass for a 31-yard touchdown (12-14).
Hazard’s defense stood strong on the next Pikeville drive, and gave the over to the offense in Panther territory. The Bulldogs were then able to punch the ball into the end zone with a 2-yard run by Brandon Jones (18-14).
The Bulldogs received the kickoff to start the second half. Hazard’s Jason Johnson put his team in Pikeville territory with a big catch, and Brandon Jones capped the drive with a 49-yard run (24-14).
The Panthers then exploded for three consecutive touchdowns. Pikeville was able to turn a ten point deficit into an 11-point advantage (35-24).
Hazard was able to cut into the lead early in the fourth period as Brandon Jones collected his fourth touchdown of the game on a 7-yard run (30-35). The score did not stand long as Pikeville scored on their first play from scrimmage (30-42).
The Panthers extended their lead on their next possession as Derrick Pugh scored his seventh touchdown of the game (30-49). The Bulldogs had one more touchdown left in them (Jason Johnson 6-yard catch), but it would be too little, too late as Pikeville held on for the 36-49 win.
Hazard stats: Rushing: Cade Fletcher 2 carries for 3 yards, Juwan Hill 1 carry for 1 yard, Brandon Jones 25 carries for 220 yards and 4 tds, and Tanner Morgan 8 carries for 41 yards. Passing: Tanner Morgan 17 of 32 for 222 yards and 2 tds. Receiving: Trey Higgins 3 for 36 yards, Juwan Hill 1 for 2 yards, Jason Johnson 10 for 151 yards and 2 tds, Jalen Olinger 1 for 15 yards, Cole Ratliff 1 for 10 yards, and Dan Turner 1 for 8 yards. Interceptions: Cade Fletcher 1 and Jordan Childers 1. Fumble Recoveries: Jordan Childers 1. Tackles: Anthony Asher 2, Jordan Childers 6, Robbie Daidson 3, Jack Davis 4, Hilton Dixon 2, Cade Fletcher 5, Jordan Hill 4, Zack Hoskins 3, Brandon Jones 5, Jalen Olinger 4, Jimmy Perkins 2, Cole Ratliff 15, Houston Smith 6, Dan Turner 2 and Braxton Whitaker 4.
Tony McGuire can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.