LOG MOUNTAIN — The Bell County defense held Knox Central to 116 total yards on Friday as the Bobcats downed the Panthers 22-8 to win the Short-Redmond Auto Group Pride of the Mountains Bowl.
Sophomore running back Brandon Baker ran 20 times for 88 yards and two touchdowns while senior quarterback London Stephney added 59 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Stephney also ran for a pair of two-point conversions.
“I thought we played hard,” Bell County coach Dudley Hilton said. “We held a good football team almost scoreless tonight.
“It’s a good rival game. We hadn’t played it for years. We’ve always played them in freshmen and JV so we know them. They’ve got a good program and they’re coming off a regional championship. They’ve got a little more confidence that they can play now. It’s a good win.”
The Bobcats got on the board early with Baker capping a long drive with a 2-yard TD run. Stephney’s conversion made it 8-0 with 7:16 to play in the first quarter.
Following a defensive stop, Bell County marched down the field again with Stephney’s 1-yard TD run and conversion pushing the lead to 16-0 just before the end of the first quarter.
Baker added a 3-yard TD run with 6:31 to play in the first half to make it 22-0.
Brant Hoskins and Stephney both had interceptions in the first half and the Bobcats missed on a couple of other scoring opportunities after throwing an interception of their own as the score remained 22-0 at halftime.
Knox Central opened the third quarter with their only successful drive of the night.
Brady Worley had a 32-yard scramble and completed a pass of 22 yards to Jacob Barnard that would set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Ethan Mills. Worley’s conversion made it 22-8 with 8:00 to play in the third quarter.
“We backed off of them a little bit and that quarterback they’ve got is tough,” Hilton said. “He’s kind of like ours, you get him out in the open field and he’s hard to bring down. He did a real good job.”
The Bobcats moved the ball down inside the Panther 20 a couple of times in the second half but turned the ball over on downs both times. Knox Central never threatened to score again as the 22-8 proved to be the final.
“It’s hard to for me to say how many more touchdowns we should have scored but we moved the ball and had a lot of yardage. We had so many opportunities that we just didn’t take advantage of,” Hilton said.
Stephney finished 5 of 9 passing for 53 yards. Jason Jones caught three passes for 26 yards and Hoskins caught two for 27.
Dawson Woolum added 41 yards on 10 carries and Hayden Callebs 20 yards on five carries for the Bell running game.
“Brandon is running better, we’ve got that committee of running backs. I thought Woolum ran good again. Hayden Callebs looked good the few times he ran it. We’ve got four or five of them that we can roll out there and make it work,” Hilton added. “One good thing about them is they’re all sophomores.”
The Bobcats (2-0) will be back in action on Friday night at South Laurel (2-1). Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.