SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — The bus trip from home took longer than it did for Bell County (Ky.) to establish who was the better team Friday night. The Bobcats, a perennial Class 3A playoff program, drove five hours to administer an old-fashioned, two-plus-hour whipping on South Pittsburg.
With a size advantage along the line of about 50 pounds per player, the Bobcats bulldozed their way to a 35-7 win over the Pirates, handing the hosts their first loss in a season opener in a decade.
"Both sides, they were big, and both sides of their line only had to play one way, so that was a big disadvantage for us," Pirates coach Tim Moore said. "That's what they do. They're not complicated but they're good at what they do. It's hard-nosed, power football."
Bell County averaged 6.7 yards per carry in rolling up 326 rushing yards, collecting 21 of its 23 first downs on the ground. The Bobcats outgained the Pirates 364-100 in total offense.
"We just executed, it was that simple," Bobcats quarterback Peyton Collett said. "Our offensive line was the key for us. They blocked great all night and made it easy on all of our backs.
"They beat us at home last year, so it was pretty big for us to come down and get revenge this time. We wanted to come out and set the tone early."
The Pirates opened the game with an eight-play, 61-yard scoring drive, capped by Corbin Fitzgerald's 14-yard touchdown run to convert a fourth-and-4. But on their next eight possessions, the Pirates managed just 49 total yards, and they were outscored 35-0 for the next three quarters.
Bell County's Austin Caldwell finished with 129 yards on 23 carries and scored his team's first two touchdowns. Chase Woolum scored twice and added 63 rushing yards.
Fitzgerald led the Pirates with 63 yards on nine carries before leaving the game in the third quarter with an injury. South Pittsburg continues a tough schedule to begin the season, traveling to 4A Hixson next week.
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...