BELFRY — With the game on the line, the Valley Middle defense stepped up and got the stop the Wildcats needed.
On fourth and goal from the Valley 14-yard line, Pikeville had the ball with just over a minute to go. The Panthers came up short and that helped the Wildcats pick up a 16-14 win to claim the County Championship.
That wasn’t Valley Middle’s only big defensive stop, though. Trailing 16-8 in the final seconds of the first half, Pikeville couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone as the halftime break commenced and the Wildcats held onto their lead.
Valley got on the scoreboard first thanks to standout quarterback Russ Osborne. Osborne broke a big run to get deep into Pikeville territory and punched the ball into the end zone with 5:08 left in the first quarter. Osborne scored on the two-point conversion as well to give the Wildcats an 8-0 lead.
Pikeville answered on its first possession of the game. The Panthers methodically ran the ball down the field and Pikeville’s Westin Bevins capped off a long scoring drive with 5:38 left in the second quarter to tie the game up at 8-8.
Osborne had another huge game to lead the Wildcats. He rushed for 167 yards, two TDs and two two-point conversions. He also was three for seven passing for 73 yards.
Valley moved the ball down the field quickly on its next possession. Osborne found Thomas Hall for a long pass to set up Osborne’s second TD run of the game. Osborne scored on the two-point conversion to give the Wildcats a 16-8 lead.
Pikeville tried to answer, but was stopped short of the goal line as the halftime buzzer sounded.
Pikeville didn’t give up, though. Pikeville’s Dylan Thompson scored with 6:59 left in the game to cut the lead to 16-14. The Panthers went for two, but the Wildcat defense held stopping the Panthers short.
The Wildcats tried to run the clock out on its next possession, but turned the ball over on downs in their own territory with just over four minutes to go.
Pikeville marched the ball down the field, but a big illegal motion penalty backed the Panthers up and set up the big fourth and goal play.
Valley improved to 9-1 on the season.
The Wildcats and Panthers will meet again in the first round of the state tournament.
Belfry won the consolation game 28-0 over Pike Central.
Belfry will enter the state tournament as a No. 1 seed.
Pikeville enters as a two-seed and Valley is the No. 3 seed.