PAINTSVILLE, Ky. – The Pikeville Panthers are headed to the Class A state championship game Thursday night in Bowling Green, Ky. as they downed regional rival Paintsville in the semi-finals 42-23 this past weekend.
The Tigers of Paintsville, led by Kentucky recruit Kash Daniels, had defeated the Panthers in the regular season. However, Daniels missed the playoff game with a knee injury. Daniels was an unexpected scratch in the Tigers’ rematch with Pikeville, whom they edged 23-22 in overtime on Sept. 4. Daniel reportedly suffered a sprained MCL. He had a team-high 158 tackles this season and was also the Tigers’ quarterback and a star on offense.
Paintsville’s defense had given up no more than 28 points in the regular season. That was against Paris in a playoff victory last week.
However, Pikeville, which trailed 17-14 after the first quarter, pulled away and cruised to the big semi-final win.
The Tigers took a 7-0 lead on a 24 yard pass from Kent Phelps to James Allen, then went up 14-7 on a 75-yard kickoff return by Phelps.
Senior Daric Pugh got Pikeville on the board with a 25 yard run with 7:53 left in the first quarter. The kick by Denton Heffington tied it at 7-7.
A 52-yard field goal from Joao Dos Santos gave Paintsville a 17-14 lead at the end of the first quarter. But then Pikeville, coached by Chris McNamee, reeled off 28 consecutive points, starting with Pugh’s second TD run of the game. Panthers quarterback Wyatt Battaile added two of his three touchdown passes during the sequence to send the Tigers to their first defeat of the season.
Pikeville led 28-17 heading into the dressing room at the half.
Anthony Vanderbeck ran for a 5-yard Pikeville touchdown, while Battaile completed TD passes to Cody Charles for 13 yards and Andrew McNamee for nine yards.
Pikeville rolled up 500 yards of total offense on 69 plays, compared to 125 yards by Paintsville.
Pugh rushed 32 times for 236 yards and two scores, Vanderbeck rushed for 69 yards and a TD and Blake Charles rushed for 52 yards. Battaile was 11-12 passing for 118 yards and three TDs. Charles caught a pair of touchdown passes. Heffington was a perfect 6-for-6 on extra points.
Charles led the Panther defense with 15 tackles, while Vanderbeck added seven stops.
Pikeville High School is 33-5 the last three years and 42-10 over the last four seasons under Coach McNamee. Since 1990 the Panthers are 252-90 and they were runner-up in 1991. Of course Pikeville won three state Class A titles back in 1987-88-89.
Pikeville (12-2) will meet Beechwood (13-1) Thursday night in the finals on the campus of Western Kentucky University.
Score by quarters:
Pikeville: 14 14 7 7 – 42
Paintsville: 17 0 0 6 – 23
(Kyle Lovern is the Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)