Over the past three years, the Perry County Central Commodores had dominated the annual meeting with their cross-town rivals the Hazard Bulldogs. However, the Black Gold match up has given way to the Hall of Fame Bowl, and along with the new game came a change in fortunes for the Hazard Bulldogs.
Despite an inauspicious start, Hazard was able to regain their composure and go on to a dominating performance. The Bulldogs went on to claim the trophy in the inaugural Hall of Fame Bowl by the score of 38-20.
Hazard got off to a shaky start, ending their first possession with a Perry Central score. The Bulldogs dropped the ball and fumbled the snap leading them into a punt situation. When the snap went high, Durrell Olinger was forced to kick the ball through the back of the end zone, giving the Commodores a safety, and two points.
The Commodores managed to harness the early momentum and marched the ball down the field toward the Bulldogs' goal. When the drive stalled deep in the "red zone", Perry Central was force to settle for a Ray Lee Fletcher 25-yard field goal, and the 5-0 lead.
Hazard quickly regained their composure on their next possession. The Bulldogs wasted little time moving the ball into Commodore territory. The Bulldogs used a little misdirection to catch the Commodores off balance, and finished the drive with a 32-yard Durrell Olinger to Preston Smith touchdown pass. After the 2-pt. Conversion, Hazard had an 8-5 lead.
Perry Central's next drive started well enough, and the Commodores quickly drove the ball into the Bulldog side of the field. But, as quickly as the drive had started, it ended with a punt.
With the success of the previous drive still fresh in their minds, Hazard returned to the air for their next drive. This time the Bulldogs would not have to set up a play, they were able to cover the distance in one fail swoop, a 65-yard catch and run by Chuckie Osteen that went for a touchdown. The score sent the Bulldogs into the second quarter with a 14-5 lead.
The Commodores continued to find the going tough in the second quarter, giving the ball up once again after a failed drive. This time, however, Perry Central pinned Hazard deep in their territory, setting up another safety. The Bulldogs failed to handle a snap out of the shotgun, and the ball sailed into the end zone. Hazard fell on the ball, and Brandon Jones made the tackle for the two points (14-7).
Perry Central then cleanly fielded a short free kick, setting them up near Bulldog territory. The Commodores quickly went for the score, running Brandon Willis around the left end. The play covered 33-yards, and netted the Commodores six points. However, the extra-point was no good, preserving the 14-13 lead for the Bulldogs.
Hazard's next possession consisted of several plays, and penalties. The Bulldogs effectively moved the ball on the Commodores, but on more than one occasion shot themselves in the foot with penalties.
As time was running out in the half, Durrell Olinger was caught deep behind the line, but somehow managed to escape to get away the pass. The ball sailed toward the end zone where several Hazard and Perry Central players waited. Perry Central's Alfred Collins managed to knock the ball away from the intended receiver, but into the hands of an opportunistic Chuckie Osteen. The extra-point attempt was no good, but the score gave the Bulldogs the momentum, and a 20-13 lead, going into the break.
Rain during the half slowed both teams' offenses, and cut down on scoring. Hazard and Perry Central scored but once each in the third period, sending the game into the final period with Hazard still holding the advantage.
The Bulldogs scored first in the third period. After a couple of unproductive possessions, Durrell Olinger again hooked up with Chuckie Osteen for their third touchdown. This time the play covered 30-yards. Again, the extra-point attempt was no good, giving Hazard the 26-13 lead.
Perry Central continued to find ways to keep themselves in the game. After a long drive, the Commodores were able to stick the ball in the end zone with a 1-yard run by T. J. Searcy. The extra-point attempt by Ray Lee Fletcher was good, and the Commodores were within a touchdown at 26-20.
The Bulldogs went into the final period holding on to the slim six point lead, but quickly added an insurance touchdown. Durrell Olinger was able to hook up with Colby Hoskins for the Bulldogs fifth touchdown pass of the night. This one covered 27-yards and gave the Bulldogs some breathing room (32-20) with time winding down in the game.
The 12-point lead put the pressure on the Commodores' offense, causing them to change their strategy. The change of plans forced Perry Central into a costly turnover, giving the Bulldogs control of the game.
Hazard quickly went for the end zone and an end to any hopes the Commodores had of getting back in the game. The Bulldogs were able to get the touchdown they needed to ice the game when Justin Wallace broke through the Perry Central line for a 20-yard run.
The touchdown proved to be the final score of the game, giving Hazard the 38-20 win in the inaugural Hall of Fame Bowl.
After the game, Coach Mark Dixon commented on the win. "I think our aggressiveness on offense and defense made the difference in the game. In order to have a good season we will have to keep the attention and aggressiveness going."
Passing: Durrell Olinger: 16 of 22 for 328 yards and 5 TDs.
Receiving: Chuckie Osteen: 5 receptions for 149 yards and 3 TDs. Preston Smith: 4 receptions for 35 yards and 1 TD. Colby Hoskins: 3 receptions for 38 yards and 1 TD. Jerome Blanton: 1 reception for 36 yards. Aaron Hall: 2 receptions for 63 yards. And Sheldon Francis: 1 reception for 7 yards.
Rushing: Justin Wallace: 5 carries for 54 yards and 1 TD. Preston Smith: 3 carries for 19 yards. Jerome Blanton: 2 carries for 8 yards. Sheldon Francis: 3 carries for 34 yards. Durrell Olinger: 11 carries for 108 yards, and Colby Hoskins: 4 carries for 4 yards.
Tackles: Preston Smith 12, Will Gayheart 11 (1 fumble caused), Jimmy Miller 10, Matt Turner 10,
Interceptions: Matt Turner 1, Colby Hoskins 1 and Justin Wallace 1.
Perry Central stats
Rushing: T. J. Searcy: 9 carries for 9 yards and 1 TD. Brandon Willis: 21 carries for 139 yards and 1 TD, Joe Begley: 7 carries for 20 yards, and Ryan Miller: 4 carries for 13 yards.
Receiving: J. C. Sullivan: 2 receptions for 10 yards.
Tackles: Ryan Miller 11, Joe Begley 6, Demetri Travis 6, Jared Lucas 6, J. C. Sullivan 5, Alfred Collins 5, Travis Pennington 5 and Brandon Jones 5 and 1 sack.