In 2015, Pikeville beat Noel Rash and his Beechwood Tigers 42-28 in the KHSAA Class 1A title game. The past two seasons, Beechwood has erased the memory of that 2015 loss by winning titles over Hazard and Raceland.
Friday, Rash and his Tigers saw the Panthers again on the other sideline, this time at Kroger Field and in front of over 6,000 fans. However, unlike in 2015, the Tigers found a way to hold on and come away with a 21-20 win and their third consecutive title and 14th championship overall.
After a scoreless first quarter, Beechwood would score first with a 24-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Cameron Hergott to senior tight end Luke Bolger.
Bolger, one of the more under the radar prospects First Star Football Report has talked about, also led the Tigers defense with 5.5 tackles (4 solo) and a sack.
The Tigers knew Pikeville wasn’t going to role over and stop playing and the Panthers wasted little time dialing up a 57-yard touchdown strike from Class 1A player of the year, quarterback Connor Roberts, who hit Jackson Hensley making the score 7-6 Tigers.
The Panthers made a key special teams mistake when a bad snap allowed the Tigers to stop their extra point attempt keeping the Tigers ahead by a single point.
Hergott, who is a player to watch in the 2021 recruiting class, finished the day hitting on 8of-11 passes for 74-yards and two scores, responded by hitting Logan Castleman on a screen pass for a 13-yard score putting the Tigers up 14-6. The score stood when both teams left the field at halftime.
Hergott also came up big running the ball posting 116-yards rushing with one touchdown on the day.
Midway in the third quarter,
Roberts, who was just as effective for the Panthers, got things going their way when he hit Hensley again, this time for a 65-yard scoring strike. However, another missed point after conversion kept the Tigers up 14-12.
Roberts showed why he earned Class 1A player of the year honors as he rushed for 40yards on 10 carries while hitting on 10-of-15 throws for 243-yards and three touchdowns on
With the Panthers felling momentum swinging to their way, they used a successful on-side that was recovered by Cody Raines on the Beechwood 49-yard line.
Roberts went back to work and despite a personal foul, closed the drive with a 25-yard pass to Christian Billiter for the score. Roberts converted the two-point attempt giving Pikeville a 20-14 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
But Rash fields a veteran team with two future Division One college players in Dayton Baugh (Army) and Adam Derry (Middle Tennessee State) that play both ways and the Tigers didn’t flinch.
Hergott put the Tigers on the scoreboard again with a dive from one-yard out. Colin Graman’s extra point attempt was good, and the Tigers held a 21-20 lead with 9:42 left in the game.
As good of a game Hergott played, he also came close to making a major mistake. With the Tigers driving, Hergott fumbled with the ball being recovered by the Panthers Jon Collum on the Pikeville 21-yard line.
Roberts again look to drive the Panthers down the field and got them to the Beechwood 25-yard line only to see Bolger make his second big play of the day when he sacked Roberts for a seven-yard loss. The play pushed the Panthers back to the 32-yard line with 1:16 remaining in the game. On 2nd and 17, Roberts looked to connect again with Billiter. However, he watched as his throw found the hands of John Odom of the Tigers and killing any chance the Panthers had at the win.
Beechwood ran out the clock with the Tigers winning their third straight Class 1A title.