The Hazard Bulldogs went into last Friday’s football game having disposed of the their previous playoff opponents with an average winning margin of 38.5 points per game. The Bulldogs’ opponents (Berea and Pineville) did not post their scores until the game was already out of reach. This week, Hazard hosted the Williamsburg Yellow Jackets, a team with only one loss on their record (11-1).
Those who showed up at the game were expecting an old-fashioned shootout as both teams had put up big numbers this season (Hazard 35 pts per game, and Williamsburg 46 pts per game). However, it was the defenses that showed up to play.
Throughout the first half, the ball changed hands with regular frequency. The Bulldogs had a couple of drives that ended with a strong Williamsburg stand. The Yellow Jackets, as well, had a couple of strong drives, but each was stopped by a Hazard interception (a feat that would ultimately seal the game for the Bulldogs).
Yardage was at a premium in the first half as neither team could find a weakness in the other’s defense. The two teams headed off the field at the half with a 0-0 score.
Both teams began to open up the field in the third period, but once again, strong defensive plays snuffed out any offensive gains. With 12 minutes left in the game, the scoreboard was still lit with zeros.
Hazard got the first break late in the fourth quarter, but the drive stalled. The Bulldogs would have to settle for a field goal attempt, but came up just shy.
Williamsburg marched the ball down field quickly, and they too failed to find the end zone and had to settle for a field goal attempt. The Yellow Jackets’ attempt went wide, preserving the scoreless contest.
The miss set the Bulldogs up on the 20-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Jordan Olinger took the ball out of the Wildcat and broke up the middle. Nearly every defender on the Williamsburg team touched Olinger on his run, but none could bring him down.
Olinger broke through a trio of would-be tacklers at the 15-yard line and ran into the end zone. Kevin Eversole added the extra point, giving Hazard the 7-0 lead. Williamsburg put together a strong drive in the minute remaining on the clock, but an interception by Jalen Olinger kept the Yellow Jackets out of the end zone. Hazard went on to the 7-0 win, and their sixth consecutive region title.
The win improved the Bulldogs’ record to 9-3 on the season. Hazard will travel to Fairview this week to take on the only remaining undefeated team in Class A.
Hazard stats: Rushing: Kody Arnett 2 for 5 yards, Nathan Higgins 3 for 17 yards, Brandon Jones 11 for 65 yards, Jordan Olinger 4 for 106 yards and 1 td and Evan Whitaker 6 for 2 yards. Passing: Evan Whitaker 4 of 7 for 83 yards. Receiving: Brandon Jones 1 for 2 yards, and Jordan Olinger 3 for 81. Extra-points: Kevin Eversole 1. Interceptions: Jalen Olinger 1, Nathan Higgins 1 and Jordan Olinger 1. Tackles: Kody Arnett 9, Hilton Dixon 2, Cade Fletcher 1, Alex Francis 9, Nathan Higgins 3, Brandon Jones 6, Tyler Logan 4, Josh Meehan 10, Jalen Olinger 8, Jordan Olinger 12, Jacob Roll 8, Houston Smith 7 and Ryan Whitaker 2.