Stephney powers Bobcats to victory over Black Bears
One of the state’s most successful coaches in a career stretching back to the 1970s, Dudley Hilton has made a habit of rebuilding programs.
Hilton and the Bobcats received a big boost in their latest rebuilding effort with the arrival of junior quarterback London Stephney from Knoxville over the summer. Stephney has been a difference maker this season as Bell has improved from 7-5 to 9-1 heading into the playoffs. Stephney’s skills and athleticism were on display Friday in a 46-26 win at Harlan County as he completed eight of nine passes for 187 yards with two touchdowns passing and another on a fumble return.
Bell County reeled off 30 unanswered points in the first half after the Bears opened the game with a 14-play, 64-yard drive featuring runs by junior backs Tyler Casolari and Ben Landis. Casolari went in from the 1 and Patrick Bynum followed with the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead at the 4:47 mark of the first period.
Stephney found Jason Jones for a 39-yard catch on Bell’s first offensive play. Colby Frazier, the Bobcats’ leading rusher this season, picked up two first downs before fullback Keagen Lefevers went in from the 1, then added the tying two-point conversion with 2:50 to play in the quarter.
Another long pass from Jones, who made a diving catch, set up the second Bell scoring drive, which ended with Trevor Kidd going in from the 5 on the fifth play of the second period. Kidd also added the two-point conversion.
The Bell defense got in on the act on the next offensive play as Stephney stripped the ball from Casolari after a 13-yard run, then picked up a loose ball and ran 40 yards for a touchdown and a 22-8 lead with 9:46 left in the first half.
After several nice runs by Frazier, Stephney found Jones again for a 17-yard touchdown pass, then connected with him for the two-point conversion and.a 30-8 halftime lead.
The Bears showed quite a bit of grit in the second half, outscoring Bell 18-16. The Bobcats scored on a 2-yard Frazier run and an 18-yard pass from Stephney to Antonio Zachary. Stephney ran for one two-point conversion and passed for Isaac Collett for the other.
The Bears ran for 165 yards in the second half and picked up 12 first downs, led by Landis with touchdown runs covering 12 yards and 1 yard, the second coming after the Bears recovered a fumble on the 1 and marched 99 yards in 13 plays. Bynum scored on a 40-yard run out of the Wildcat offense between the two Landis touchdowns.
Harlan County (3-6) will play host to South Laurel on Friday in the playoffs. Bell County will be at home against Estill County.
Bell County 46, Harlan County 26
Bell County 8 22 16 0 — 46
Harlan County 8 0 12 6 — 26
HC — Casolari 1 run (Bynum run)
BC — Lefevers 1 run (Lefevers run)
BC — Kidd 5 run (Kidd run)
BC — Stephney 40 fumble return (run failed)
BC — Jones 17 pass from Stephney (Jones pass from Stephney)
BC — Frazier 2 run (Stephney run)
HC — Landis 12 run (pass failed)
BC — Zachary 18 pass from Stephney (Collett pass from Stephney)
HC — Bynum 40 run (run failed)
HC — Landis 1 run (run failed)
First downs 18 17
Rushes-yards 39-248 47-238
Passing 187 0
Comp-Att-Int 8-9-0 0–0-0
Punts-Avg 0-0 2-34
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 3-1
Penalties-Yards 12-134 5-55
RUSHING—Bell County, Frazier 16-87, Lefevers 12-57, Stephney 5-51, Asher 4-49, Kidd 1-5, Dean 1(-1). Harlan County, Landis 21-96, Bynum 7-71, Casolari 14-65, Hopkina 1-7, Clayborn 1-5, Henson 2-0, Lewis 1(-6).
PASSING—Bell County, Stephney 8-9-0-187.
RECEIVING—Bell County, Jones 4-104, Zachary 2-39, Asher 1-26, Kidd 1-18.