On Friday, the Hazard Bulldog football team hosted the Paintsville Tigers in a semi-state game that would lead the winners to the state tournament in Bowling Green. The Bulldogs dominated the first half, and held off a strong charge in the second half to pull out the 20-7 win.
The Bulldog defense stood strong on the first Tiger offensive possession, setting Hazard up with good field position. Hazard then drove the ball down the field for the first score of the game.
Cory Smith punched the ball in from just outside the 20 yard line. After the extra-point was blocked, the Bulldogs held the 6-0 lead.
The Bulldog defense forced a turnover on the next possession, and again Hazard was ready to roll. Hazard moved the ball quickly down field, and ended with a 5-yard run by Cory Smith. This time the extra-point was good, giving the Bulldogs the 13-0 lead.
Both teams had trouble moving the ball effectively in the second quarter, with neither team finding the end zone. Hazard went into the break with the 13-0 lead still in tack.
For the most part, the third period was eventless. However, the final minute of the frame proved to contain a game’s worth of excitement.
Hazard increased their lead with 27-yard touchdown pass from Bailey Blair to Jason Johnson (20-0) with less than a minute left in the period. Paintsville responded with a 69-yard run on their first play from scrimmage (20-7).
The fourth quarter would offer no more scoring, allowing Hazard to take the 20-7 win, and give them a spot in the Class A state finals. The Bulldogs (12-2) will take on the Beechwood Tigers (13-1) on Friday December 2, at 7:00 p.m.
Hazard stats: Rushing: Bailey Blair 3 for 6 yards, Reese Fletcher 4 for 13 yards, and Cory Smith 38 for 216 yards and 2 tds. Passing: Bailey Blair 8 of 14 for 161 yards and 1 td. Receiving: Reese Fletcher 1 for 21 yards and Jason Johnson 7 for 146 yards and 1 td. Interceptions: Andy Baker 1 and Braxton Whitaker 3. Tackles: Andy Baker 4, Jacob Brashear 2, Ethan Caldwell 4, Austin Combs 3, Robbie Davidson 4, Reese Fletcher 1, Daniel Grigsby 1, Jordan Hill 3, Kade Holland 6, Jason Johnson 1, Cheikh Ndiaye 4, Skylar Pelfrey 4, Austin Smith 3, Isaiah Stupart 4 and Braxton Whitaker 3.
Tony McGuire can be reached via email at [email protected]