Breathitt advances to Semi-State with win over Walton-Verona in Regional Championship
JACKSON – November 24, 2019 – Casey Allen – Bluegrass Sports Nation
Walton-Verona made the long trip to Jackson comfortably on a charter bus Friday evening for the Class 2A Regional Title Game. The Bearcats came into the game sporting a record of 8-4 having won their previous two playoff games by a combined score of 89-26 and looking for their second straight trip to the State Semi-finals. Standing in their way, was the undefeated Breathitt County Bobcats(12-0). The Bobcats have high aspirations as well and looked to make their first trip to the state semi-finals since 2008. Breathitt entered the regional title game having beaten their previous two playoff opponents by a combined score of 98-21.
The game began as most have for the Bobcats as they elected to receive the opening kickoff. After a short drive that ended with a Lane Weddle punt, Walton-Verona put the Bobcats defense to the test as the Bearcats methodically drove down the field. Breathitt’s defense would bend but not break forcing Walton-Verona to kick a field goal. The Bearcats gave Breathitt it’s first deficit of the playoffs 3-0.
That score wouldn’t change until the second quarter of play. The Bobcats finally woke up and began playing Breathitt County Football. Charles Collins busted loose for a 34-yard touchdown run. Breathitt’s special teams made their presents known on the ensuing kickoff recovering the onside around the 36-yard line. Coach Moore showed extreme confidence in his young quarterback by calling a deep pass play. Jaylen Turner connected with Brandyn Slaughter for a 36-yard touchdown strike and just like that the Bobcats led 13-0.
The Bobcat defense put the pressure on the Bearcat offense forcing them to throw the ball downfield. As he has done all season, Senior cornerback Jacob Noble made them pay as he intercepted the pass and sprinted to the endzone. Breathitt converted the 2 point try and led 21-3.
The next score could possibly be the play of the year for the Bobcats. Charles Collins has proven that he may be the most complete back in the state. Last week he made an impossible catch down the sideline for a touchdown. This week, he took the handoff, rolled to his right, and made a throw while getting hit that most NFL quarterbacks couldn’t have made as he connected with Jacob Noble for a 27-yard touchdown. Jacob Noble with two defenders around him made an incredible reception busting the game open 27-3.
Walton-Verona proved why they were still playing as they kept battling. Travis Brauer of the Bearcats crossed the goalline with 1:34 remaining in the half, cutting the lead to 27-9. Breathitt’s special teams once again showed their muscle as Brandyn Slaughter took the kickoff to the house for a 67-yard touchdown return, pushing their lead to 35-9 with 1:23 seconds left in the half.
Walton-Verona kept coming, busting open for a huge touchdown right before half. Cutting the lead to 35-15. The Bobcats were content with that lead and ran the remaining time off the clock. 24 minutes separated the Bobcats from making their first semi-state appearance since 2008.
To start the second half, Breathitt’s defense once again came up huge keeping the Bearcat offense out of the endzone. From there, Coach Moore leaned heavily on his offensive line, who took over the second half and put this game on ice. Breathitt would finish the game with 38 rushing attempts for 308 yards. Charles Collins ran the ball 27 times for 253 yards and two touchdowns. Braxton O’Hara added two scores on the ground as well for the Bobcats. Brandyn Slaughter played huge in all three phases of the game. He had a receiving touchdown, a kickoff-return for a touchdown, and he also had an interception. Jacob Noble added two touchdowns of his own one on defense and one receiving.
The Bobcats advanced but it wasn’t perfect. Breathitt gave up nearly 400 yards of offense to a stout Bearcat team. While several of those yards came after the game was well in hand, if the Bobcats are to make it to Kroger, they will need to sure up their tackling. Speaking of Kroger……
The Bobcats will be on the road in the semi-finals as they travel to Somerset to face the Briar Jumpers. Somerset has only one loss on the season which they avenged in the second round against Lexington Christian. Somerset is clicking on all cylinders and will be looking to take advantage of their homefield Friday night.
Breathitt County has been doubted all year, first it was South Laurel who would beat the Bobcats, then it was Estill County, then Middlesboro, then Leslie, then the so-called experts picked Pike Central to derail the Bobcats, and finally it was Walton-Verona that would end the Bobcats dream. Those same people have often called the Bobcats, “counterfeit.” The only thing counterfeit is the checks that these people have written that 13 teams couldn’t cash.
It all comes down to Friday night. Which team will be playing at Kroger Field? Which team will hush all doubters and punch their ticket for the State Championship Game? The good news is, the game isn’t played on paper. Both of these teams have proven themselves on the field, and will have one more opportunity to do so before the State Finals. On the other end of 2A, Mayfield hosts Beechwood. Two powerhouse programs that have often played for a trip to the state finals over the years. Some of those meetings being in the state finals. Breathitt, Mayfield, and Beechwood have combined to win 29 state championships on the gridiron. Somerset has played in 5 state finals but have never won. One thing is for sure, tradition runs deep with these four remaining programs. While questions have swirled about the RPI system, they definitely got it right with the final 4 in 2A.
As always check us out on www.bluegrasssportsnation.com for all your sports coverage. Also keep an eye out for my guy Fletcher Long’s breakdown of this weeks action as well as his preview for the semi-finals. You can do that by liking our facebook page, following us on twitter, and checking the website. Good luck to all the Mountain teams left playing.
You can watch the State Semi-Final on BSN on Friday Night!!!