Battle of the Best – Johnson Central travels to Belfry in Battle of States best teams

Taveon Hunter breaks loose for a touchdown score – photo by Brendon Miller

Belfry played host to the 2016 State Champions, Johnson Central, in what is a battle of two of the top teams in their respective classes. Belfry enters the game 8-1 and the top team in Class 3A, with their only loss being to West Virginia power Huntington on opening night. Since their opening night loss, Belfry has manhandled the rest of their schedule to a tune of 8 straight wins. Belfry has scored 403 points for a 50.6 per game average while giving up 96 points for a 12 point per game average.

They are beating their opponents by a whopping 38.6 points per game. Johnson Central also enters the contest at 8-1 coming off a stunning loss to fellow 4A power Ashland Blazer. Johnson Central entered the game with Ashland Blazer on an 8 game roll with the past 5 being nothing short of amazing allowing 29 points, 5.9 points per game allowed, while scoring 271 points, 54.2 points per game. Ashland Blazer defeated the Golden Eagles 21-18 and now Johnson Central of having a very good Belfry team to try and regroup. Belfry will give Johnson Central a chance to redeem themselves against the Pirates as well. Last year Belfry traveled to Johnson Central and handed them their only loss of the season in route to their Class 4A Title.

Belfry kicked off to Johnson Central to open this contest. The Pirates defense held the Golden Eagles to a 3 and out and forced a punt. Belfry and Johnson Central have very similar offenses and Belfry and both prepared for some hard hitting football. Belfry would stall and go 3 and out and punt the ball back to the Golden Eagles. Johnson Central opened their 2nd possession with a long pass attempt that fell just short. This put Johnson Central in a 2nd and long and their drive would again stall for another 3 and out. The Golden Eagles would again punt the ball back to the Pirates. Belfry would also go 3 and out and punt the ball back to the Golden Eagles. After 4 offensive series, neither team has gotten a first down. Johnson Central finally broke the ice at the 3:51 mark with a first down. Johnson Central surprised Belfry with a pass for a first down. The Golden Eagles continue to drive down the field with punishing running and a couple surprise passing attempts. Riley Preece would carry the ball in for a touchdown for the a Johnson Central for a 7-0 lead. At the end of the 1st quarter, the Golden Eagles lead 7-0.

At the start of the 2nd quarter, Belfry would get their first 1st down at the 11:40 mark of the 2nd quarter. Belfry would then get a false start penalty and then a sack. Belfry would then have to punt again. The Golden Eagles would come out and continued their momentum as Blake Gamble ran for 35 yards before running over several players. Johnson Central would continue punching the ball down field as Devin Johnson would push the ball across the goal line for a 13-0 lead. The PAT was blocked by Belfry which could be very important later in the game. Belfry would again take over at the 20 yard line and after a penalty, the Pirates would fumble the ball and Johnson Central would take over on the Pirate 14 yard line. Devin Johnson would capitalize with a 5 yard touchdown run. Johnson Central would go for the 2 point conversion which failed. The Golden Eagles would now have a 19-0 lead at the 5:30 mark of the 2nd quarter. Belfry would again take the kick off and move out to their own 30 yard line. Belfry would surprise the Golden Eagles with a 62 yard touchdown pass from Browning to Hunter to make the score 19-7. Johnson Central would take over on their own 20 yard line and immediately take a sack. After a Belfry encroachment penalty, the Golden Eagles would go back to their smash mouth running style of football. Johnson Central would go in to the half with a 19-7 lead.

Johnson Central kicked off to open the 3rd quarter and Belfry would take over at the 35 yard line. Belfry would open by pounding the ball for a couple quick first downs to move across the 50 yard line. Taveon Hunter would then break a 35 yard touchdown run to get the Pirates right back in the game for a 19-14 Johnson Central lead. The drive was for 65 yards on 5 plays. Johnson Central would take the kick off and start their own drive at their 27 yard line. Johnson Central continues to pound the ball down the field and controlling the clock in the process. A huge holding play negated a Johnson Central 1st down pass and stalled the drive for Johnson Central. The Golden Eagles would punt the ball down to the Pirates 23 yard line. Belfry would continue their momentum swing with a couple of big runs coupled by a big Johnson Central penalty that helped move the Pirates in to Johnson Central territory. That’s when Taveon Hunter would break free again for a 43 yard touchdown run to give the Pirates their first lead of the game, 21-19.

Johnson Central would take the kickoff up to their own 36 yard line and would now be playing from behind after losing an early 19-0 lead. The quarter would end with the Golden Eagles in unfamiliar territory trailing 21-19 to the Belfry Pirates. Belfry would force Preece out of the pocket and would come away with an interception on an ill advised pass. The Pirates would take over right at midfield with 11:49 to go in the game. The momentum clearly on Belfry’s side after a sluggish start to the game. Browning would break a big run and gain a first down after breaking a couple tackles while getting the ball down to the Golden Eagles 19 yard line. The Pirate would then hit Taveon Hunter on a 14 yard scoring play to open up a 28-19 lead.

The Pirate rolled off 28 unanswered point to stun the Golden Eagles midway through the final quarter. Johnson Central would go 3 and out at a bad time during the game and punted the ball back to the now red hot Belfry Pirates. Belfry would push across another touchdown to put Johnson Central down 35-19, which would be the final score.

Belfry has now one 9 in a row for a 9-1 record and will open their tournament play at home against Thomas Nelson while Johnson Central fell to 8-2 and have lost back to back games for the first time since 2009. The Golden Eagles will open against Mason County next week.