LEXINGTON – The Russellville football team’s championship aspirations came to an end with a 30-27 loss to Pikeville in the Class A title game Friday at Kroger Field in Lexington.

Russellville (12-2), playing for its first state title since 1990, withstood an offensive onslaught by Pikeville with a second-half rally that fell just short in the final moments.

“First, credit to Pikeville to come out and play like they did,” Russellville coach Mikie Benton said. “We just made a lot of mistakes in the first half – mainly being my fault. It took me a while to figure out offensively what their game plan was. We went into halftime with a plan and came out and were able to keep them scoreless, but just made too many mistakes in the first half for us to be able to battle back.

“It just got to the point where we ran out of time and couldn’t capitalize on all the mistakes we made (in the first half).”

The two teams entered Friday’s game among the best defenses in Class A, but the offenses dominated with five touchdowns scored during a three-minute span in the first quarter.

Pikeville (14-2) started the flurry with a 3-yard touchdown run by Blake Birchfield, set up by a long Birchfield run on fourth down a few plays early.

Russellville responded with a reverse from Jaquis Todd, who sliced through the defense for a 63-yard touchdown that tied the score 6-6 with 4:32 left in the period. It took a little over a minute for Pikeville to regain the lead as Birchfield scored his second touchdown of the day.

Russellville tied the score 13-13 on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Lennon Ries to Anthony Woodard, but Pikeville regained the advantage on its first play from scrimmage – a 52-yard touchdown pass from Isaac McNamee to Wade Hensley.

McNamee added a touchdown run early in the second quarter and Aaron Chang’s 23-yard field goal made the score 30-13 with 23 seconds remaining in the first half.

Russellville got a little momentum going into the locker room. Chevis Elliott returned the kickoff 72 yards to the Pikeville 4. Russellville scored on the final play of the half – a pass from Jovari Gamble out of the wildcat formation to Woodard that trimmed the deficit to 10 points.

“Once we got in at halftime I told the guys that we did not play well,” Benton said. “I did not call the game well, but we are only down 10 points. That right there kind of fired us up. I told them that I felt like we came out a little flat – maybe a little tense and nervous playing in the state championship game. I just had to tell the guys to relax.”

Russellville inched closer early in the second half with another explosive play by Todd – a 46-yard run that made the score 30-27.

After a couple of punts, Russellville had one more chance to take the lead. Russellville started at its own 7 and marched inside the Pikeville 20. The drive stalled, with a sack setting up a long fourth down and an incomplete pass giving the ball back to Pikeville with 2:15 left.

Pikeville was able to get a first down and run the clock out to seal the win.

“We got down there on that last drive – had two big plays to keep the drives going for first downs,” Benton said. “My confidence was sky high at that point. I really thought we were going to be able to punch it in, go up and put Pikeville in a spot where they would have to go and try to score quickly on us.

“Of course, that wasn’t the case. It didn’t work out like that, but the guys fought. They could have easily laid down and given up, but they didn’t. There is no doubt in my mind we definitely earned some respect from Pikeville.”

Russellville outgained Pikeville 296-261.

Todd ran for 123 yards, while Woodard had 83 yards receiving on three catches.

“We may not have won, but you saw what we did for the community out there,” Todd said. “We put Russellville back on the map.”

Birchfield ran for 179 yards for Pikeville.

“Just thrilled to death to be able to come out of here with a win,” Pikeville coach Chris McNamee said. “We knew Russellville was a great football team with big-play capability. Just really proud of our effort.”

Russellville’s season ended with a run that captivated the community – many of whom made the trek to Lexington to cheer on the team Friday.

“The community support was absolutely amazing and great,” Benton said. “It’s always great to turn around and pretty much see everyone from back home being there. This run meant a lot. It’s been 31 years since we’ve been here. Unfortunately we couldn’t win it, but getting back here I think definitely sets a different standard in Russellville. I think it puts Class A on notice that we are going to be a team to be reckoned with. We definitely don’t anticipate it being another 31 years before we are up here.”

PHS 20 10 0 0 – 30

RHS 13 7 7 0 – 27

First quarter

PHS – Blake Birchfield 3 run (kick failed), 5:33

RHS – Jaquis Todd 63 run (kick failed), 4:32

PHS – Birchfield 7 run (Aaron Chang kick), 3:28

RHS – Anthony Woodard 44 pass from Lennon Ries (Dustin Brown kick), 2:25

PHS – Wade Hensley 52 pass from Isaac McNamee (Chang kick), 2:12

Second quarter

PHS – McNamee 4 run (Chang kick), 8:45

PHS – Chang 23 field goal, 0:23

RHS – Woodard 4 pass from Jovari Gamble (Brown kick), 0:00

Third quarter

RHS – Todd 46 run (Brown kick), 9:21{&end}

– Follow prep sports reporter Micheal Compton on Twitter @mcompton428 or visit bgdailynews.com.

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