Lexington Christian Academy linebackers Dylan Lancaster and Sam Maybriar spent so much time in Hazard's backfield on Friday night that they probably had squatters rights to live there.
Lancaster and Maybriar combined for 17 tackles, including eight for losses, and made clutch plays in the closing minutes to help LCA hold on for a 27-20 victory over the defending Class A champions.
"Dylan and Sam gave 'em a lot of problems," Eagles Coach Ray Graham said with a smile. "They're explosive and physical, and they do an excellent job anticipating the snap. They were just quicker than (Hazard's) linemen could handle."
Lancaster, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound junior, sacked Hazard quarterback Evan Whitaker and forced him into an intentional grounding penalty in the closing seconds with the Bulldogs on the LCA 7-yard line.
Then on fourth-and-14 at the 17, Whitaker threw an incomplete pass to the end zone with 12 seconds left.
"We were very motivated for this game," Lancaster said. "We knew what was coming and what we had to do.
"They've got a good offense, so we blitzed a lot to keep them off their rhythm."
Maybriar, who seemed to be chasing and catching Bulldogs all night, recovered a high-snap fumble that blunted another Hazard red-zone threat with 2:30 left.
"We were all pumped up tonight," said Maybriar, a 5-11, 180-pound senior who also led LCA's rushing attack with 68 yards and a touchdown.
"We wanted to do our thing — play hard and with all our heart."
Nick Whitman was also a defensive star for the Eagles, picking off two Hazard passes and getting seven tackles.
LCA's defense got an early wake-up call when Hazard's Nathan Higgins bolted 80 yards for a TD on the first play of the game.
"We didn't expect that. It was a shock," Graham said.
Maybriar said after Higgins' TD, he and his fellow seniors "rallied up" the Eagles.
LCA answered with a tying score just 37 seconds later. Dima Ballard's 54-yard pass to Justin King set up Nick Whitman's 2-yard TD.
The Eagles' defense went to work after that, setting up LCA's offense with good field position. Ballard hit Lincoln Henzman with a 30-yard TD pass; Maybriar ran for a 30-yard score, and King shook loose on a 24-yard TD run to make it 27-7.
Hazard's Austin Johnson returned an interception 26 yards for a TD late in the second quarter to make it 27-13 at halftime.
Hazard's defense blanked LCA in the second half, but it didn't matter. The Eagles' defense did its job.
Bulldogs Coach Mark Dixon said his team has "to learn to come out and play harder early in the game.
"But I'm tickled with the way the kids fought back. We've just gotta keep our heads straight and focused, and understand we're playing for the playoffs and keep getting better."
Hazard returned most of its playmakers from last year's 12-2 title team, including quarterback Whitaker and receivers Jordan Olinger and Austin Johnson.
LCA's defense limited Whitaker to 11 of 22 passing for 109 yards. Olinger and Johnson combined for eight catches for 93 yards.
"This was a great win for us," Graham said. "Hazard beat us 43-7 last year. Now we've beaten Corbin and Hazard this year with 28 guys dressing.
"It's an amazing thing."
Hazard 7 6 0 7 —20
Lexington Christian 21 6 0 0 — 27
H — Nathan Higgins 80 run (Kevin Eversole kick). LCA — Nick Whitman 2 run (Justin King kick). LCA — Lincoln Henzman 30 pass from Dima Ballard (King kick). LCA — Sam Maybriar 30 run (King kick). LCA — King 24 run (kick blocked). H — Austin Johnson 26 interception return (pass failed). H — Evan Whitaker 12 run (Kevin Eversole kick).
Records —Hazard 1-2; LCA 4-1