Paintsville 48, Paris 28: The Tigers captured the region championship on Friday, knocking off the Greyhounds on the road in a battle of undefeated teams to set up a rematch with Pikeville, whom they clipped 23-22 in overtime back on Sept. 4. University of Kentucky signee Kash Daniel led the way for Paintsville again, getting the offense going with a 44-yard touchdown run and hitting Darren Morris with a 16-yard scoring strike. He added another 9-yard scoring run and TD passes to James Allen and Morris.
Lexington Catholic 14, Central 13: The Knights captured their fifth consecutive Region 2 Championship when Eric Sottile blocked a field-goal attempt with seven seconds left. The 14-point total, LexCath’s second-lowest of the season, was good enough to send the Knights into the Class 3A semifinals next week.
“Our defense played lights out, I mean unbelievable,” said Knights Coach Mark Perry. “We turned the ball over a few times in the first half and our defense just held strong and kept us in the game. They played with their backs against the wall all night.”
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Quarterback Andy Thompson provided both of Catholic’s touchdowns, hitting Jaylen Jones from 18 yards out to finally get the Knights on the board with 5:20 left in the third quarter then scoring on a four-yard keeper that proved to be the game-winner early in the fourth. Thompson finished with 106 yards on 18 carries. Jones rushed for 122 yards on 18 rushes.
Perry said the Knights are eager for their shot to make the state finals.
“Our goal at the beginning of the year was to play for a championship, and that chance is right there in front of us next week.”
Danville 56, Lexington Christian 14: The Eagles traveled to Danville for the Class 2A quarterfinals with hopes of avenging a lopsided 41-7 home loss back on Oct. 23, but the Admirals again proved too tough for Lexington Christian. Led by running back Stephen Ray, Danville scored the first five touchdowns of the game, burying the Eagles in a 43-0 halftime hole.
The third quarter was no kinder to the visitors. With Lexington Christian in hail-mary mode, the Admirals’ pass defense keyed in on quarterback Brayden Miller. D’Mauriae Vancleave and Tristan Coffey picked off Miller passes and returned them for touchdowns. Miller threw five interceptions in all. He finally got the Eagles on the board with fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Ryan Stucky (13 yards) and Drayden Burton (21).
Ray rushed 17 times for 124 yards and a pair of scores. Quarterback Zach Dampier completed seven of nine passes for 158 yards and a touchdown.Vancleave added a TD reception to his pick-six.
Despite a disappointing ending to the season, the future looks bright for the Eagles. They’ll graduate just eight seniors, and offensive leaders Miller and running back Dillon Wheatley will return as juniors to try and build on this year’s 8-5 campaign. Wheatley will have a tough time eclipsing this season’s numbers. His 86 rushing yards against Danville gave him a whopping 2,149 yards to go with 32 scores on the ground.
Danville heads into next week’s 2A semifinal matchup with Newport Central Catholic at 12-1, riding a 10-game winning streak.
Pikeville 50, Hazard 6: The Panthers ran away from the Bulldogs early in the Class A quarterfinals, using three first-half rushing touchdowns from senior Daric Pugh to jump out to a 36-0 halftime lead. Pugh burnt the Hazard defense with long scoring runs of 44 and 68 yards and added a one-yard plunge. Pikeville’s stout defense kept Hazard off the board until the last play of the game, when Cole Ratliff hit Jacob Blanton for a three-yard score as time expired.
Pikeville heads into next week’s rematch with Paintsville on an eight-game winning streak, having topped fifty points in each contest. After Friday’s blowout, the Panthers have outscored their opponents 624-157 on the year.
Highlands 44, Covington Catholic 22: The senior tandem of quarterback Austin Hergott and wide receiver Eric Miller connected twice for touchdowns in the first half to pace the Bluebirds in their Class 5A quarterfinal win over the Colonels. In addition to playing linebacker, senior Jared Daugherty was busy kicking three field goals. Another senior, Nick Kendall, added three rushing scores for the Colonels, who will host Pulaski County next week as winners of seven straight. Pulaski edged North Laurel 28-24 and hasn’t lost since August 28.
Josh Sullivan: 859-231-1424, @sullyjosh