Ashland Blazer grounds Bobcats for trip to semifinals

Published 2:05 pm Tuesday, November 22, 2022


Contributing writer

Ashland Blazer stopped the running attack of Bell County on Friday as the Tomcats left Log Mountain alive and kicking in the KHSAA Class 4A Playoffs with a 34-16 victory.

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Ashland Blazer captured the state quarterfinal victory to improve its record to 9-4. The Tomcats started the season off with a 1-3 record, but has won seven straight games, and will travel to Louisville Christian Academy (13-0) on Friday in the state semifinals.

The other matchup in Class 3A will have Mason County traveling to Bardstown on Friday. The winners will meet for the 3A Championship at noon on Dec. 3 at UK.

Bell County closed the season with a 10-3 mark. The Bobcats defeated Powell County (53-7) and rolled to a 47-6 win over Fleming County in the opening two rounds of the playoffs. Ashland Blazer held the Bobcats to 107 yards rushing and 91 passing yards.

Ashland Blazer was led by sophomore running back Braxton Jennings with 153 yards on 24 carries. LaBryant Strader added 47 yards while Atayveon Thomas gained 41.

“We want to be physical and we want to be tough,” said Ashland Blazer coach Chad Tackett, who is in his first year with the Tomcats. “I think our kids are starting to buy into that, and that’s going to be hopefully something we’re known for in the years to come.”

Strader, a sophomore quarterback, completed six of eight passes for 53 yards.

Senior running back Dawson Woolum led the Bobcats with 57 yards on 10 carries. Daniel Thomas, a junior running back, followed with 44 yards on 16 rushes. Freshman QB Blake Burnett was six of 11 passing for 76 yards. He had two interceptions. George Pace had three receptions for the Bobcats for 71 yards. Cameron David and Thomas had the interceptions for Ashland Blazer.

The Tomcats opened the scoring in the first quarter as Strader went in from the 1 with 3:28 left in the period. Brian Church kicked the extra point. Thomas scored on a 7-yard TD run with 10:23 to play in the first half. Church’s kick made it 14-0.

Bell County fought back and scored as Daniel Thomas connected with Pace for an 18-yard halfback pass for a touchdown. Ethan Raby added the two-point conversion as Bell pulled within 14-8 with five minutes left before halftime.

Jennings went in from the 9 at the 2:26 mark of the third quarter. Church added the extra point as the Tomcats led 21-8. Ashland got a 1-yard touchdown run from Thomas with 8:29 left in regulation. The kick by Church was perfect. Thomas struck again when he added a 22-yard touchdown run with 4:03 to play.

“He’s a playmaker,” Tackett said of (Atayveon) Thomas. “He’s such a talent, such a young talent being a sophomore. I’m so excited for him.”

Burnett connected with Pace for a 43-yard touchdown pass to close the scoring.

Ashland Blazer had 19 first downs compared to the Bobcats’ 10.

“It’s just been such a journey and such a wild ride this year with where we started out and where we’re at now,” Tackett said. “All the credit goes to these assistant coaches and these kids.”

The Tomcats had 57 yards in penalties while Bell had just five.

Bell County coach Dudley finished his 44th season with an overall record of 419-133.


AHS 7 7 7 13—34

BC 0 8 0 8—16


A—Strader 1 run (Church kick)


A—Thomas 7 run (Church kick)

BC—Pace 18 pass from Thomas (Raby run)


A—Jennings 9 run (Church kick)


A—Thomas 1 run (Church kick)

A—Thomas 22 run (kick failed)

BC—Pace 43 pass from Burnett (Clark pass from Burnett)