On Friday night, the Hazard Bulldog football team hit the gridiron against the Beechwood Tigers for the state Class “A” title. The Bulldogs and the Tigers hooked up in a classic defensive battle with the game going right down to the wire. Unfortunately, Hazard would come up a touchdown shy of the win.
Hazard got on the board first with a touchdown with 3:37 remaining in the first period. Cory Smith waltzed through the Beechwood defense untouched for a 7-yard run. After the Tyler Collins PAT, the Bulldogs held the 7-0 lead.
On the first play of the second period, Beechwood ran the ball 17-yards for the touchdown, tying the game at seven. The Tigers would then take their first lead at the 3:56 mark of the second period when they concluded a long drive with a 1-yard run (7-14).
The Bulldogs burned half of the third period before they ended the drive with a touchdown. Hazard was able to tie the game on a 9-yard Bailey Blair to Braxton Whitaker pass (14-14).
The final touchdown of the game came late in the third period as Beechwood concluded another long drive with an 1-yard Trevor Soward run. Hazard, however, was not finished as they were able to get two shots at the end zone in the final quarter.
The Bulldogs put together a strong drive late in the fourth, but it was cut short by a penalty and a strong Tiger defense. After a stellar defensive stand, Hazard got another shot at tying the game or taking the lead, but a late interception sealed the win for Beechwood.
Hazard stats: Rushing: Bailey Blair 6 for 16 yards, Reese Fletcher 3 for 15 yards and Cory Smith 29 for 128 yards and 1 td. Passing: Bailey Blair 8 of 15 for 74 yards and 1 td. Receiving: Ethan Caldwell 1 for 9 yards, Reese Fletcher 1 for 18 yards, Jason Johnson 3 for 27 yards and Braxton Whitaker 3 for 20 yards and 1 td. Fumble recoveries: Austin Combs 1. Tackles: Andy Baker 3, Ethan Caldwell 3, Austin Combs 4, Robbie Davidson 2, Reese Fletcher 1, Matt Francis 1, Jordan Hill 2, Kade Holland 4, Cheikh Niadye 4, Austin Smith 7, Isaiah Stupart 4 and Braxton Whitaker 6.
Tony McGuire can be reached via email at [email protected]