“The most impossible odds allow for the most amazing miracles,” Belfry head coach Phillip Haywood said after defeating Paducah Tilghman 33-28 to win his eighth state title. “If I’ve ever been around a team that provided an amazing miracle for a season, it was this team.”
After an 0-5 start to the season—the Belfry Pirates were crowned 3A State Champions Saturday afternoon. Running back Isaac Dixon took 41 rushes for 376 yards and five touchdowns on the afternoon to claim MVP honors.
First Quarter: Paducah Tilghman 7, Belfry 0
Paducah Tilghman began their first possession fast and furious. Quarterback Jack James threw a strike to Brian Thomas for 36 yards on the first play of the game. After a litany of rushing attacks, James found Camdon Marshall in the flats for a 12-yard touchdown on the opening drive.
Belfry was threatening to match Tilghman’s first drive, but a fumble by Isaac Dixon negated the series.
The Pirates forced a punt on the ensuing drive and planned to cash in on their opportunity inside the Blue Tornado red zone to end the opening quarter.
Second Quarter: Paducah Tilghman 21, Belfry 13
Belfry didn’t have to wait long. Just one minute into the quarter, Dixon bounced to the outside to score the equalizer.
After another defensive stop, the Pirates went on a painful 15-play, 79-yard drive that took 8:09 off the clock. Dixon cashed in for the second time Saturday afternoon. He would end the half with 20 carries for 155 yards and two scores.
Tilghman ran the two-minute drill to perfection and James found Marshall for the second time on the afternoon.
With just 11 seconds remaining in the half, Tilghman squibbed the kick to the right side, which was muffed by Cameron Varney and recovered by the Blue Tornado at the Pirate 35. With one play to cover the rest of the field, James and Marshall hooked up for the touchdown. The ensuing two-point try was good and Tilghman went into the locker room with an eight point lead.
James finished the half 9-12 for 143 yards and three touchdowns. Three of Marshall’s four receptions were good for touchdowns.
“This is no different than the way we started our season,” Haywood said about giving up two touchdowns in a 15-second span. “We started off kind of slow, which we got kind of ragged, we felt kind of bad about it, but I said that’s the first half. It’s the second half that counts. It’s how do you finish the game?”
Third Quarter: Belfry 21, Paducah Tilghman 21
Haywood’s Pirates would take his halftime words to heart and use it as fuel to overcome their eight-point deficit.
Belfry received the half’s opening kickoff, where they bled over half the quarter on an 11-play, 71-yard series. The Pirates faced fourth down on two separate occasions, both of which were converted by Dixon on the ground—the latter of which, Dixon took 22 yards to the house.
A successful two-point conversion later tied the game at 21.
Belfry received the break they needed on a fourth down stop inside their own 25. A 23-yard rush by Dixon plus a defensive face mask call, saw the Pirates move deep into Blue Tornado territory to end the quarter.
FINAL: Belfry 33, Paducah Tilghman 28
Dixon didn’t waste any time giving his team the lead in the fourth quarter. On the first play of the final quarter, Dixon ran in his fourth touchdown of the afternoon. The ensuing PAT was no good and kept the game at six points.
That missed PAT would come back to haunt Belfry momentarily as Tilghman marched right down the field for to take the lead on a Malachi Rider touchdown and made PAT.
Just as the entire season has gone for Belfry—they had their backs against the wall on 4th & 7 with just over five minutes remaining with the game on the line. Dixon struck again, this time from 62 yards out to regain the lead. A failed two-point conversion kept the score at five points.
“I wanted the ball in the whole game,” Dixon said. “I told Coach [Haywood] before the game, I want it and he trusted me and when the time was needed on fourth and seven, I was going to get that seven yards and it turned out my team blocked it perfectly and it just led to a 60-yard touchdown—I can’t ask for more.”
Disaster would strike Tilghman, fumbling the ensuing kickoff and Belfry would recover and bleed out the remainder of the clock. With the victory, the Pirates claimed their eighth state title in program history.
“I believe our philosophy is to get a little better each day,” Haywood said. “To get a little better each week. We can’t control what happened yesterday, but we can control what happens today.”
A Message from Kroger:
We’re excited to tell you about something new from our friends at Kroger. Did you know Kroger is America’s largest grocery chain that started over 135 years ago? They are doing something they’ve never done before: bringing fresh groceries right to you with a new service called Hometown Pickup.
That’s right, for those of you in Cynthiana, Midway, Eminence, Bedford, McKee, Dry Ridge, Carlisle, Eubank, Georgetown, Mt. Vernon, Jackson, Frenchburg, Irvine, Mt. Olivet, and Paris, Kentucky you can now order all your groceries online and pick them up at a central location in your hometown. No more long drives into the city to get fresh food for you and your family. Now THAT is truly Fresh for Everyone. Thanks, Kroger.
Learn more and place your first order at Kroger.com/hometown.