October 20, 2018 – Hazard, Kentucky – JJ Baker – Bluegrass Sports Nation – Hazard Football Columnist
Coming into the game Friday night, the Leslie County Eagles were clicking on all cylinders offensively it seemed. In the last 4 games they had won 3 of 4 and were averaging over 40 points per game. Enter the Hazard Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have been up and down defensively this season and had been in battles for two out of the last three weeks, going 1-2 in that stretch with losses to district rival Pikeville and Class A contender Paintsville. It seemed as though Leslie caught the Bulldogs on a night were they were focused and sharp.
From the Eagle’s opening drive, Hazard controlled the game. Reece Fletcher sat the tone with a 35 yard pick six on the Eagles 2nd play from scrimmage. Leslie found success on the ground during their next possession getting the ball all the way down to the Hazard 3 yard line before the Bulldogs bowed their neck and held the Eagles out of the end zone. Blair found Fletcher on the next offensive series for a 58 yard pass that got the Bulldogs into Eagle territory. The drive was finished off with a 33 yard dart from Blair to Bulldog tight end Mason Collins to put Hazard up 14-0 with 2:41 to go in the 1st quarter. On the Eagle’s ensuing drive after kickoff, Trajon Campbell was able to haul in another interception and sat the Bulldogs up with great field position on the Leslie 45 yard line. The offense found the end zone again on a 30 yard pass and catch from Blair to Isaiah Stupart. Leslie was pinned deep on their side of the 50 with some great special teams coverage on the next kickoff and were forced to punt away to Hazard after another great defensive stand. This offensive drive would be capped off by a two yard Blair run. The swinging gate extra point gave the Dogs yet another two point conversion on the season with a strike thrown from Blair to Andy Baker to put Hazard up 29-0. That would be the score at the intermission.
The Bulldogs would receive the ball to begin the second half and got back to work. They drove the ball down the field, but the Eagles held them out of the end zone and Hazard had to try a long field goal. The 45 yard field goal fell short and gave the Eagles the ball on their own 20 yard line. On the Eagles second offensive play of the half, Bulldog safety Isaiah Stupart picked off another pass and set up Hazard deep in Leslie territory again. Trajon Campbell took the first hand off of the series and streaked 28 yards to the Leslie County one yard line leaving Eagle defenders in his wake in one of his most physical runs of the year. He punched the ball in from the 1 yard line after a great double team block and kick out by center Kenzie Caudill, Matthew Couch, and Dalton Strong. After the failed PAT the Bulldogs were up 35-0. Leslie found a huge hole on a jet sweep on their first play from scrimmage on their next possession and were set up on the Hazard 5 yard line. From there the Eagles were able to punch the ball in for their first and only score of the game. Hazard did sub in some younger guys so the coaches could evaluate them against a varsity opponent. Hazard played two different QBs in the closing minutes with both showing flashes of filling Blair’s shoes next year after graduation. Sophomore Garret Miller stood strong in the pocket and showed his arm accuracy going 2/3 for 28 yards. Freshman Keaton Napier showing off his legs with two runs totaling 60 yards and the final score of the game to put the Bulldogs up 41-7.
The Bulldogs looked sharp on the night offensively with Blair being 11/15 for 201 yards and 2 passing TDs and a rushing 1 TD. Hazard running back Skylar Pelfrey was given the night off and several Bulldogs touched the ball in his absence. Fletcher (60yds), Napier (60yds, 1 TD), Campbell (58yds, 1 TD), and Blair (50yds, 1 TD) all combined for a total of 245 yards on the ground. The receiving corp was led by Reece Fletcher with 61 yards and followed closely by Isaiah Stupart who had 55 yards and 1 TD. Other Bulldogs hauling in passes were Mason Collins (36 and a 1 TD), Andy Baker (29yds, 1 2pt conversion), Smiley Ford (28yds), and Kyle Johnson (20yds). Helm finished the night going 3/4 in PATs and 0/1 in field goals.
Defensively Hazard was dialed in from the start of the game. They finished the night with 3 INTs (Stupart 2, Campbell 1). Leslie could only muster 5 yards passing on the night against a Hazard defense that either came down with what seemed every pass, or challenged receivers for every ball. The Eagles were able to find minimal success on the ground, grinding out 210 yards rushing. The Eagles were only a threat to score twice against a great defensive outing by Hazard and converted on one of those tries.
Hazard will wrap up their regular season next week when they welcome the Whitley County Colonels to Daniel Field. It will be a Thursday night game so be sure to spread the word and mark your calendars. Be sure to check out BluegrassSportsNation.com throughout the week for high school previews on Thursday, high school recaps on Saturday, as well as UK Basketball and Football coverage along with local college athletics coverage.