LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) – It was Pikeville’s day from the very first play Friday.
The Panthers scored a defensive touchdown on the first snap from scrimmage and overwhelmed Paintsville, 43-0, in the UK Orthopaedics/KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl Class A championship at Kroger Field.
It capped a 14-0 season for Pikeville, which won its fifth championship in nine attempts. Paintsville’s season ended at 11-4, including two losses to the Panthers. The Tigers are 0-3 in state championship appearances.
Brody Birchfield scooped up a fumble on the first play and raced 25 yards for a touchdown only 16 seconds into the game. Three minutes later sophomore quarterback Isaac McNamee connected with Jackson Hensley on a 63-yard touchdown to make it 13-0 only three minutes into the game.
McNamee, the son of head coach Chris McNamee, threw three touchdown passes, two to the speedy Hensley, and 215 yards. Hensley, a senior who committed to Harvard before the season, finished with 78 yards receiving, 49 yards rushing, two TDs and the two-point conversion that kicked in the state’s mercy rule when the Panthers went up 36-0.
John Walker Phelps rushed for 97 yards for Paintsville, which fell only 9-8 to Pikeville in the regular-season meeting in September.
Belfry 30, Bell Co. 20
Belfry's dominant rushing attack turned away previously undefeated Bell County in the Class 3A championship game.
The Pirates (11-3) never trailed in winning its seventh state championship for coach Phillip Haywood.
Isaac Dixon was named MVP of the game after rushing for 228 yards and three TDs on just 15 carries. He put Belfry ahead with a 30-yard score with 3:12 to play in the first quarter and answered Bell County’s first score less than a minute later after Stephney scored in the second quarter. Dixon’s third TD extended Belfry’s lead to 30-12 with a 4:31 to play in the game.
When the Pirates scored first in the opening quarter it was the first time Bell County (14-1) had trailed in any game. The Bobcats pulled within 7-6 but missed the extra point and never led.
Belfry is now 7-7 in state championship games with the last title coming three years ago.