DON'T LOOK NOW: Pikeville stuns Hazard to reach state semifinals
HAZARD — When Hazard dealt Pikeville a 38-26 loss at Hillard Howard Field on Sept. 29, the Panthers dropped to a losing record of 1-4.
Fast forward seven weeks and Pikeville finds itself on the doorstep of Kentucky high school football's biggest stage.
The Panthers picked off Hazard quarterback Bailey Blair five times and recovered a fumble en route to a stunning 14-9 win in the Class 1A regional championship game played at Daniel Field on Nov. 17.
Pikeville, which played a turnover-free game, next travels to Raceland (9-4) Friday with the winner advancing to the state championship game at Kroger Field in Lexington next weekend. The Rams upset Paintsville, 31-14.
Christian Billiter picked off Blair twice while Seth Pugh, Jackson Hensley and Brody Birchfield had one each.
Pikeville quarterback Connor Roberts completed 12-of-18 passes for 154 yards and one touchdown while rushing 17 times for 43 yards and one score.
Running back Zack Roberts carried 23 times for 105 yards. Hensley had three catches for 40 yards, Billiter hauled in three passes for 42 yards and Pugh's only catch of 26 yards went for a touchdown.
Blair finished 14-of-24 for 152 yards and one touchdown. Receiver Andy Baker caught six passes for 89 yards and a touchdown.
After a scoreless first period, Hazard took its only lead of 3-0 when Tyler Collins booted a 32-yard field goal with 5 minutes, 14 seconds left in the opening half.
Pikeville went in front to stay on Connor Roberts' three-yard run with 1:54 remaining before the break. Tanner Hamilton's PAT kick made it 7-3.
It remained a four-point game until Roberts hit Pugh with a 26-yard touchdown pass with 11:25 left to play. Hamilton's kick pushed the lead to 14-3.
Hazard, which finished 9-3, closed to within five at 14-9 when Blair hit Baker with a 33-yard scoring pass play with 45 seconds left.
Pikeville, which captured its 22nd regional crown while improving to 8-4, is trying to return to the finals for the second time in three years. The Panthers beat Beechwood, 42-28, to win the title in 2015.
(Class 1A Regional Championship)
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
PK (8-4)….....................................0 7 0 7 – 14
HZ (9-3)…....................................0 3 0 6 – 9
HZ – Tyler Collins, 32-yard field goal, 5:14
PK – Connor Roberts, 3-yard run (Tanner Hamilton kick), 1:54
PK – Seth Pugh, 26-yard pass from Connor Roberts (Tanner Hamilton kick), 11:25
HZ – Andy Baker, 33-yard pass from Bailey Blair (conversion failed), :45
Next up: Pikeville (8-4) at Raceland (9-4), Class 1A state semifinals, 7:30 p.m., Nov. 24.