GOODY, Ky — They say that big time players make big time plays. If that’s the case, the BMS Pirates may have some big time players on their hands. Behind a stellar and physical defensive performance as well as timely and just as physical offense, the Belfry Middle Pirates (2-0) defeated the previously unbeaten New Harlan Patriots (3-1) by a score of 22 to 12 on a hot Saturday afternoon at Vipperman Stadium.
The Pirates led 14-6 at the half and were able to hold off the Patriot charge in the second half. New Harlan started their first drive of the game at their own 35, and on the second play of the contest halfback Matthew Brown was stripped by Belfry’s Logan Maynard and Belfry recovered the fumble taking over starting their first drive on New Harlan’s side of the field. After two short gains and a Patriot penalty, quarterback Seth Mounts pulled the ball from the fullback’s grasp and rushed 36 yards to give the Pirates the first score of the contest. Mounts punched in the two point try and gave the Pirates an early 8-0 lead.
The Patriots didn’t stay quiet for long, after Matthew Brown fielded Japheth Robinson’s kickoff for a nice return, it took just a few plays for him to dash 55 yards for a Patriot touchdown. The Pirates made an excellent gang tackle on the extra point try to keep a 8-6 lead. Belfry’s next drive went nowhere but backwards. After three straight plays of moving backwards, Belfry’s Kyle Webb punted a high kick into the sun that Matt Brown was unable to field. Belfry’s Blake West recovered the fumble and the Pirates had new life, but on their second play after the New Harlan miscue, Belfry’s Brett Coleman coughed up the ball after a tough run giving New Harlan the ball back.
The Pirate defense held firm and forced a 3 and out. New Harlan’s Kobe Burkhart, one of the best all around football players in Kentucky, punted a booming punt that rolled out of bounds, pinning the Pirates at their own 12. About those big time plays, though. Seth Mounts on the first play of the drive connected with Brad Lowe on a 62 yard strike down the right sideline. Lowe was finally tracked down before he could score but the pass helped get the Pirates out of the shadow of their own goalpost and change momentum of the game back in their favor.
Later in the drive, the pair capped off the 82 yard scoring drive by connecting once again, this time for only 9 yards but 6 points. Lowe made a fantastic diving catch in the corner of the end zone, barely getting his right toe down inside the goal line and he fell out of bounds. Mounts was unable to punch in the 2 point try, but with just 32 seconds left in the half the Pirates held a 14-6 lead. After a few attempts to punch a score in, the first half slugfest ended with Belfry keeping their 8 point lead.
The Pirates had the first possession of the second half, and after a great scoring drive before the half, they also had a chance to extend their lead but the Patriots were having none of it. Massive defensive lineman Hunter Helton made a huge play for a loss of one to start the half and the Pirates were only able to move backward on the drive. Kyle Webb once again punted it away and New Harlan gained possession looking to score and hoping to tie. On their first play, a miscommunication between Patriot QB Cody Clayborn and the New Harlan runner resulted in the ball falling to the Vipperman Stadium grass where Seth Mounts was on the spot to recover it. Mounts’ recovery was a big play that once again shifted the momentum back to the Pirates after the poor first drive of the second half.
Belfry’s first run was a handoff to fullback Brett Coleman who was tackled quickly but linebacker Kobe Burkhart jumped on the pile late resulting in a penalty. Back to those big plays… they say lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place, but unfortunately for New Harlan one strike is sometimes all it takes. Belfry speedster Deon Smith, who had two fumbles to this point in the contest and had yet to have as much as a positive gain, took a pitch from Mounts and after shaking several would-be tacklers, scampered 45 yards for a Pirate touchdown. Mounts completed a two point conversion pass to Brett Coleman and Belfry held a 22-6 lead.
New Harlan would not go down easily in the 4th quarter. The Patriots put together a 61 yard drive and although their first touchdown was called back due to holding, halfback Matthew Brown was able to punch in a short touchdown to bring the score to 22 to 12. The Patriots offensive line consisting of Kobe Burkhart, Gavin Ewald, Jordan Steele, and tight end Hunter Helton was dominant on the drive, pummeling all Pirates in their way in route to a score. A two point conversion would cut the lead to just 8, a one possession game. Brown once again got into the end zone, but once again the Patriots were tabbed for holding. On the second attempt, Belfry’s Cody Hayes, Kyle Webb, and Brett Coleman laid a crunching hit on three sides of Brown halting him in his tracks.
Belfry’s final drive was a chance to run the clock out and end the game, but a penalty and a fumble gave New Harlan final hope despite being down 10 with 3:30 left. After a good gain on first down, the Pirates’ Japheth Robinson blew past the offensive line taking down the New Harlan runner for a loss of 5.
Brown, Turner, and Josh Blevins continued to run the ball hard for the Patriots but with about 30 seconds left in the contest, Belfry struck for one last big play… a strip sack on QB Cody Clayborn by Brad Lowe to end the game as the Pirates kneeled out the contest and dealt New Harlan their first loss early in the season 22-12.
Coach Danny Oliver was thrilled for his team to win a big game early in the year. “We just try to get a little better as the year goes on and I’m so proud of our effort. Our kids were ready to play from the time they arrived at the complex and they have a special understanding of what Belfry football is all about.” The middle school Pirates brought back an old tradition before the game by entering down the ramp beside the gym, a tradition that all of the former players and coaches in attendance said gave them chills. “We played tough and physical style Belfry football and flew around all over the field on defense; they really rose to a challenge against kids who were much larger than them. Our line played strong and our kids were patient and content until we were able to make big plays offensively… you can’t ask for much more than that especially this time of year” Oliver continued.
The Pirates have won four straight Division 2 state championships in Kentucky. New Harlan, although in the smaller Division 3, is sure to be one of the better teams in Kentucky this season and a force in their division.
The Pirates were led in tackles defensively by Cody Hayes, Kyle Webb, Brett Coleman, Logan Maynard, and Seth Mounts. The offensive line featured Brad Lowe and Caleb Spears at tight end, as well as Chandler Williams, Jordan Jewell, Garrett Smith, Aidan Smith, Spencer Hensley, and Japheth Robinson.
OFFENSIVE STATS: Seth Mounts – 5 carries, 45 yards, 1 TD. 3/3 passing, 74 yards, 1 TD. Fumble Recovery. Brett Coleman – 7 carries, 27 yards. 1 reception, 3 yards. Kyle Webb – 4 carries, 18 yards Deon Smith – 6 carries, 41 yards, 1 TD. Brad Lowe – 2 receptions, 71 yards, 1 TD. Forced Fumble, Fumble Recovery