Pineville falls to Hazard

Published 2:43 am Monday, November 6, 2017

Hazard set the tone on the first play from scrimmage when the Bulldogs hosted Pineville on Friday in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs. Bailey Blair completed a deep pass across the middle to Skylar Pelfry for a 51-yard touchdown.

The Mountain Lion defense continued to struggle en route to a 50-22 loss to Hazard. With the loss, Pineville has been eliminated from the playoffs while the Bulldogs host Lynn Camp on Friday.

“Twelve years ago when I came to Pineville, I didn’t come to be 120-0. I know Pineville is a special place and it’s not special because you can go 10-0 every year. It’s a special place because you get to watch small teams fight through adversity,” said Pineville coach Bart Elam. “Some years you’re better than other years but all years you’ve got character being shown by our kids fighting through adversity, playing on small teams and having to stay in the game.

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“Just fighting through things like that is what makes Pineville football be Pineville football, not the won-loss record. It’s hard to lose, it’s fun to win, but you’ve got to be able to handle both of them. This was one of those years that we’ve had to handle the bad stuff a little more — but that’s okay, we’ll learn from it.”

Pineville was led by senior Lawrence Simpson, who ran for 103 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Matt Golden rushed for 46 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.

Garland Ellis completed six passes for 89 yards and a touchdown with one interception. Reese Capps hauled in two passes for 34 yards and a touchdown. Josh Lawson caught two passes for 15 yards. Simpson added 28 yards on his solo catch.

“Our team showed a lot of character this year. This was a tough season, you can’t say anything else about it,” said Elam. “But our kids kept fighting back, kept coming back and practicing hard and doing things the right way and I’m proud of them.”

Blair paced the Hazard offense going 6-of-7 for 220 yards and three touchdowns. Braxton Whitaker caught two passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Andy Baker also caught two passes for 47 yards.

Matthew Francis led the Bulldogs on the ground with 109 yards and two touchdowns on four carries. Cory Colwell added 48 yards and a touchdown on four carries.

After opening the game with a touchdown, Francis ran for a 20-yard score to give Hazard a 14-0 lead with 10:10 remaining in the first quarter.

An interception by Baker helped set up a 55-yard touchdown pass from Bailey to Whitaker to extend the lead to 21-0 with 2:12 to go in the first. The Bulldog lead stayed at 21 until Colwell found pay dirt on a 6-yard run to increase the lead to 28-0 with 7:09 remaining in the second quarter.

After holding Pineville to a three-and-out, Blair connected with Whitaker for a 57-yard touchdown pass that ballooned the lead to 36-0 with 5:04 remaining in the half.

Despite being down 36 points, Pineville showed no quit. After taking over possession at the Bulldog 46, Ellis hit Capps on a 14-yard touchdown strike. The failed conversion brought the score to 36-6 with less than two minutes remaining in the half.

The Lions got the ball to start the third and took over at the 24. Ellis connected with Lawson for a 15-yard gain. Simpson then broke a tackle and went 61 yards for a touchdown. Nate Napier converted the two-point attempt to cut the lead to 36-14.

Pineville continued to narrow the deficit after Golden broke a tackle and cut outside for an 18-yard touchdown run. Simpson’s conversion cut the lead to 36-22 with 55 seconds remaining in the third.

“We got it to a two-score game and were recovering that onside kick away from making it very interesting. You can say, well they took their starters out, and they did take out their juniors and seniors. But we started the game with our freshman and sophomores playing with a couple of seniors,” said Elam. “When it was young guys against young guys, our young guys won the second half and that makes us really proud and gives us a lot of motivation going into the off season.”

Hazard put their starters back in the game and scored 14 unanswered points to secure the 28-point victory.


Jay Compton of the Pineville Sun contributed to this report


Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN