LOG MOUNTAIN — Bell County’s running game came through when they needed it Friday night. Senior back Jonathan Polly broke loose for a 30-yard run with 7:06 to play and the Bobcat defense made those points hold up for a 21-14 win over a game Whitley County squad.
“I knew coming in it was going to be a good football game,” Bell coach Wayne Mills said. “Whitley has a big thing hanging in the weight room that says: ‘Let’s beat Bell County today.’ We’re the only ones they have that for and we’re not even in their district. We’re everybody’s bull’s eye, but our kids never say die. I’m proud of our kids.”
Early on it was a defensive struggle for both sides. Whitley intercepted Peyton Collett on the first play from scrimmage, but Bell’s Jeffrey Saylor recovered a fumble on the following series.
Neither team generated a first down for most of the first quarter. The game turned when the Colonels were stopped on a 4th and short play deep in the own territory and the Bobcats capitalized as Ryan Collett scored on a 21-yard run. Hayden Gilbert’s kick made it 7-0 with 3:11 to go in the quarter.
Bell’s defense held again and Collett scored again, this time from three yards out as Bell went up 14-0 with 6:28 remaining in the half. The big play on that drive was a 17-yard pass from Peyton Collett to Tyler Green to convert on third down.
“They were changing their defense back-and-forth, doing a lot of diving down,” Mills said. “I just think it was a matter of will. We felt like some of our better plays, they were taking away from us. But we just decided that if they can stop it, they can stop it. We’re going to do what we do well.”
It was still 14-0 at the half.
Whitley made some adjustments and got their offense in gear in the second half. Josh Nichols took a pitch and found room to the outside and went 30 yards for a touchdown. Alex Conlin’s kick made the score 14-7 with 3:08 to play in the third.
Bell struggled to move the ball in the third quarter, but they also continued to hold Boston Bryant and the Whitley ground game in check.
Bryant finally broke through with a 28-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter and Conlin’s kick tied the game at 14.
“We won’t see that offense again all year, but they gave us some problems,” Mills said. “(Bryant’s touchdown) was one of the best high school plays as far as inspiration you’ll see. We had him on the ground and that kid came out there and scored.”
Bryant finished with 58-yards on 15 carries.
Bell County answered with their best drive of the night and Polly capped it with that 30-yard TD run that proved to be the game winner.
“Being in that Bryan Station game kind of prepared us for tonight. I don’t think we panicked and that’s a sign of a good football team,” Mills said. “That’s what I was proud of. (On Polly’s run) Smiley got a good kick out, Tan and Dylan got a good double-team and Polly found the end zone. He’s a warrior.”
Polly finished with 73 yards on 12 carries while Collett had 88 yards on 13 runs to lead the Bobcats. Peyton Collett finished 3-of-7 passing for 27 yards and one interception. Green had all three catches for 27 yards.
Bell County (3-1) has an open date next week before starting district play at home against Wayne County on Sept. 21.
Whitley County (1-2) plays at Clay County next Friday.
— — —
Whitley Co.0 0 7 7 — 14
Bell County7 7 0 7 — 21
BC- Ryan Collett 21 run (Hayden Gilbert kick)
BC- RCollett 3 run (Gilbert kick)
WC- Josh Nichols 30 run (Alex Conlin kick)
WC- Boston Bryant 28 run (Conlin kick)
BC- Jonathan Polly 30 run (Gilbert kick)
— — —
Whitley (44-235): Austin Ysidro 15-79, Boston Bryant 15-58, Zack Mills 7-54, Josh Nichols 1-30, Tillman Jackson 6-14; Bell (32-160): Ryan Collett 13-88, Jonathan Polly 12-73, Shane Lawson 5-2, Peyton Collett 2-(-3).
Whitley: Ysidro 3-8-0-(-3); Bell: PCollett 3-7-1-27.
Whitley: Bryant 1-2, Tyler Sears 1-(-1), Jackson 1-(-4) ; Bell: Tyler Green 3-27.