BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – It was a good old-fashioned smash-mouth football game between the Belfry Pirates and the Louisville Central Yellowjackets.
For four quarters the two teams had a black and blue defensive battle, but in the end Central defeated Belfry 12-6 in overtime.
The score at the end of regulation was tied at 6-6. Both teams had missed the extra point kicks after scoring first half touchdowns.
The Yellowjackets scored first as senior running back Deris Cox hit pay-dirt with 1:47 left in the first quarter on a 28-yard run. The extra point kick was no good, but the defensive minded Central Yellowjackets led 6-0.
Belfry tied the game in the second quarter as junior quarterback Sani Warren hit senior tight end Tony Messer with a 13-yard TD pass to tie the game at 6-6. The drive was 16-plays, 74-yards, that used up 7:45 of the game clock. The extra point kick was no good and Belfry missed a chance to take the lead.
Belfry added a new wrinkle in the game by running the option on offense with Warren leading the way. Belfry’s option attack burned up clock and yardage throughout the game, dominating the time of possession producing a 27:39 to 20:21 advantage.
Two first half turnovers perhaps hurt the Pirates chances of another scoring opportunity.
In the second half the two Class 3A powers continued to battle – bending – but not breaking on defense.
Late in the third Central pinned Belfry back on its own 1-yard line with a great punt. The Pirates quickly moved the football out to midfield on good runs by sophomore fullback Austin Hatfield, junior Trinity Carr and senior Josh Robinson. However, Central’s tough, athletic defense stepped up and halted a possible scoring drive by Belfry.
In the closing minutes of regulation, the teams traded possessions, with neither defense giving up a score.
Central won the coin toss to start the overtime period and elected to give Belfry the football first. They were able to hold the Pond Creek bunch out of the end zone and then took over on offense.
The Pirates got the first possession of overtime, starting at Central’s 10. Facing third and goal at the 4-yard line, Warren couldn’t connect with running back Josh Robinson on an option pitch.
Robinson recovered the loose ball but the play resulted in a 12-yard loss, setting up a fourth down at the 16. Warren’s pass to Keaton Taylor fell short and turned the ball over on downs to Central.
Two plays later, the game was over.
On the second play in the OT, Louisville Central quarterback Sydney Tefford hit wide receiver Marcel Malone with a 15-yard touchdown pass in the end zone for the game winning touchdown pass. The catch was Malone’s lone reception on the day.
“(Central) made some great plays,” Belfry coach Philip Haywood said. “It was a heck of a football game. Gosh, I feel bad for our kids because they fought all year to get here and overcame a lot of injuries. My hat’s off to Central and Coach Scroggins and their program.”
Louisville Central defeated Belfry in the state championship game last year - a 15-14 heartbreaker. This year was another tearjerker for the Belfry Pirates and their fans known as the Pond Creek Nation.
The Yellowjackets are coached by Tyrran Scroggins. Central won its fifth title in six years, the third straight time the Yellowjackets have beaten the Pirates in the final.
Belfry finished the game with 221 total yards of offense. They had 163 yards on the ground and 58 through the air.
Louisville Central only had 175 total yards, but they were able to get one more score for the big win.
Warren was 4-of-5 passing for those 58 yards and one TD. His only incompletion came in overtime.
Hatfield led Belfry with 105 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Cox led Central with 107 yards rushing on 17 tries.
Tefford was 3-of-7 passing for just 33 yards and a TD. But the one touchdown pass was the game winner.
Several good seniors played their last game wearing the red and white of Belfry with the skull and crossbones on their helmets. They include Messer, Robinson, Madison Ghormley, Zack Thacker, Payton Mullins, Eli Huddle, Mackey Francis, James May, Zach Taylor, Antonio “Tuffy” Willis, Nick Bunch, Derrick Jude, Zack Francisco and Joseph Bucci.
Coach Philip Haywood’s squad finished the season with a fine 12-3 record and were once again Class 3A regional champs and state runner-up in the Bluegrass State.
Score by quarters:
Belfry … 0 6 0 0 0 - 6
Central … 6 0 0 0 6 - 12