LOG MOUNTAIN — The Bobcat defense put on a command performance and the offense got rolling after a slow start as Bell County pulled away for a 50-6 win over Middlesboro in Friday’s late game at the City/County Bowl.
Bell’s defense held the Jackets to just 59 yards of total offense and four first downs. They recorded two safeties and forced four turnovers on the night.
“Our defense really got us going. Those kids flew around and gave a great effort. It was great team defense tonight,” said Bobcat coach Wayne Mills. “Our boys felt like they had something to prove, they were a little upset with the way they played at Bryan Station and they really pushed each other this week in practice. It wasn’t so much about Middlesboro as it was our kids wanted to give a good effort in front of the home crowd.”
The Bobcats rolled up 441 yards on 36 carries. Johnathan Polly led the way with 236 yards on 14 rushes. Ryan Collett added another 189 yards on 12 runs and scored four touchdowns to earn Bell’s offensive player of the game.
“There’s no question they’ve got an outstanding football team. That team is going deep in the playoffs and possibly even to the state championship,” MHS coach Randy Frazier said. “Our kids fought hard up front, but when you run into a team that runs a defensive line in and an offensive line in, and as big as their offensive line is it just wore on us.”
Early on Middlesboro’s defense bent, but didn’t break. The Jackets stopped the Bobcats on downs twice inside the 10-yard line in the first quarter. But they were never able to flip the field position and Jeffrey Saylor recorded the game’s first points when he sacked Major Edwards in the end zone with 6:10 to play in the opening period.
“In a big rival game both teams are going to come out playing on emotion. We didn’t execute particularly well,” Mills said. “I thought (Ryan) Pittman hit us early and really got his team going. But we just settled in and started playing, kept banging at the door. We knew it was going to break through eventually, because our line and our backs do such a great job for each other.”
The Bell running game got going in the second quarter. Collett had a five-yard touchdown run and Hayden Gilbert’s kick made the score 9-0 with 10:31 to play in the second.
Collett broke loose for a 45-yard touchdown run on the next Bobcat possession and soon after Tyler Green hauled in a deep ball from Peyton Collett and went for a 48-yard touchdown and it was 22-0 with 6:30 left in the half.
A 13-yard touchdown run by Ryan Collett extended the lead to 28-o by halftime.
“I probably should have made some adjustments to the stack a little earlier and changed defenses a little. But you come out for a quarter and a half and stick it to them,” Frazier said. “I take that responsibility.”
It was more of the same in the third quarter. Peyton Collett scored on a 13-yard run and Gilbert’s kick stretched the lead to 35-0 at the 6:57 mark. Touchdown runs of four yards by Polly and 26 yards by Ryan Collett made it 48-0.
“We’ve got to play all four quarters. The kids really fought hard, but once it got out of hand we might have hung our heads a little bit. That can’t happen,” Frazier said. “That falls on my shoulders and that’s something that I have to push through.”
Saylor recorded his second sack for a safety later in the third quarter, this time throwing Tyler Yoakum for the loss to put the score at 50-0.
The Jackets got on the board in the fourth quarter. Edwards hooked up with Jake Brock for a 28-yard gain and then scored on a three-yard run with 9:00 to play. The conversion pass failed and 50-6 would be the final score.
“It’s Middlesboro-Bell. It’s a rivalry game, people jaw back and forth, the players go to the movies together, they date each other’s girlfriends and stuff,” Mills added. “But I wish them the best the rest of the year. I’ll be for Middlesboro for every game they don’t play us.”
Parker Uhl led MHS with 41 yards on 12 carries and Donnie Foister added 22 yards on two rushes. Middlesboro quarterbacks combined to complete three of 13 passes for 33 yards and two interceptions. Brock was named the Jackets’ offensive MVP after providing a pair of highlights with that 28-yard catch and a 13-yard run.
Justin Warwick and Ben Collett had the picks for Bell County while Middlesboro’s Tyler Prater also had an interception and was named the Jackets’ defensive player of the game.
Saylor had those two safeties and several other tackles for loss to earn the defensive MVP for the Bobcats.
Bobcat freshman Peyton Collett completed 4 of 6 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown with one interception. He’ll be the starter for the rest of the season as senior Corey Oslonian will be out for the year with his knee injury.
“He threw several nice passes, ran our offense good,” Mills said. “I just hate it for Osi. It’s his senior year and it makes me sick every time I think about it. You don’t want to see anybody have their senior year disrupted because of an injury. He’s gave so much to this program over the years and my heart breaks for him. He’s going to be a part of our football team regardless and we’re going to get behind him and see him through this thing.”
Bell County (2-1) is back at home next Friday to take on Whitley County.
Middlesboro (1-2) travels to Harlan next week.
“I don’t think after a loss like this that our season is over by any means. If (Bell) was in our district they’d be the state champions in 2A,” Frazier said. “We can get better, our young kids can get better. I apologize to our seniors, it was the last shot they had at them. There are a lot of positives to build on and our younger kids have to realize that we’re going to get better every week. Our coaches are going at 110-percent and all we ask for is attitude and effort. We get that and we can make it through anything and I think we’ll be successful.”