University of Pikeville coach Dudley Hilton and Kentucky Christian coach Gene Peterson have been friends for more than 30 years. Hilton helped Peterson get into coaching.
Saturday’s game between the Knights and Bears was the first time the two have faced each other.
So when his Bears won, 22-7, Hilton admitted it was “strange” to get a win over his good friend.
“I don’t like to go up against (my good friends) but I had to coach against him,” Hiton said. “But he’s doing a great job here at KCU and I’m proud of him.”
The Knights (3-4) and Bears (5-4) were locked in a defensive battle in the first quarter with both teams trading turnovers. UPIKE converted on a 28-yard field goal by Ryan Wilson at the start of the second quarter.
After the offense was stagnant the first quarter, it was a different story in the second with running back Jamuel Jones breaking loose for a 16-yard touchdown run to put the Knights up 7-3. He finished with 67 yards on 15 carries.
“We played fairly well in the first half,” Peterson said. “But the second half really hurt us. Give credit to Pikeville’s defense. They made the plays when they had to. We just couldn’t execute on offense.”
The Bears outgained the Knights 155-129 in the first half. The Knights were unable to weather the storm, leading to UPIKE’s first-ever win in Grayson.
“They’ve done a good job this year in their recruiting and getting in some talent,” Peterson said. “Especially their quarterback. Dudley is getting it right down there.”
UPIKE took the lead early in the third quarter after quarterback A.J. Graham found Shawntez Johnson on a 14-yard touchdown pass. Johnson was rewarded again on the next series on a big play that brought the Bears down inside the 1-yard line. Graham scored two plays later.
“We moved the ball well in the first quarter but we came up two touchdowns short,” Hilton said. “Luckily we were able to make some adjustments and get the lead for good in the third quarter.”
Needing a spark on offense, the Knights turned to punter Justin Crager who ran a fake perfectly to midfield with seven minutes left in the third quarter. But KCU had to punt three plays later.
UPIKE made the adjustments it needed to at the half as the Bears limited KCU to 29 yards of total offense. Quarterback Isaac Brabson was 9 of 20 passing for 79 yards.
“We missed a lot of opportunities on some throws,” Peterson said. “We have a young quarterback and we just have to make things better and keep working.”
Seth Millar would give UPIKE its third touchdown of the second half at the start of the fourth quarter to give the Bears a 22-7 advantage.
Kentucky Christian will hit the road next week when the Knights travel to No. 2 Cumberlands.