‘We played with some fire.’ Lexington Christian’s defense key to win over Pikeville.

For a few minutes Saturday, Lexington Christian’s game against Pikeville looked like it would be yet another high-scoring free-for-all for the Eagles as each team moved straight down field for touchdowns on their opening drives.

But this week, the game’s defenses began to assert themselves, especially Lexington Christian’s, which notched three sacks and an interception against the two-time defending Class A champions in a 31-13 LCA Bowl win at home.

It marked the fewest points Pikeville has scored in 30 games dating to a 21-12 loss to Hazard in 2020.

“The narrative was we didn’t have a defense,” LCA coach Doug Charles said. “We held Bowling Green to 31 rushing yards and Boyle to 86 yards in the first half. Our guys showed out and played up tonight. I was really pleased with that.”

Linebacker Major Brown led the Eagles with eight tackles, 2 1/2 for a loss and 1 1/2 sacks. Lineman Kenyatta Hardge got a sack and two more tackles for a loss amid his 5 1/2 tackles. The Panthers were held to 234 total yards and had seven empty possessions with five punts, a turnover on downs and an interception between their two scores. Braylon Moss grabbed the interception on LCA’s own 3-yard line to stop a Pikeville drive early in the fourth quarter.

“We played with some fire in the first half,” Hardge said. “We’ve just got to keep it rolling through these next couple of games. They were a really big team. We were taught they were going to come at us the whole week.”

Charles acknowledged the LCA offense didn’t look as sharp as it had in its 56-52 win over Bowling Green or even its 47-38 loss to Boyle County, but senior running back Brady Hensley still had a big game with 191 yards and four touchdowns rushing.

Even so, yards were hard to come by early against Pikeville’s defensive front, which turned Hensley away on a fourth-and-goal play at the 3-yard line late in the first quarter.

“They’re a big group. They were sending some big guys down there on the goal line,” Hensley said. “Our O-line, they fixed it, and I was able to find holes and get into the end zone.”

Hensley’s TD runs measured 5, 3, 11 and 4 yards, with all of them coming through broken tackles on the way.

LCA quarterback Cutter Boley struggled some, though he did have a 12-yard touchdown run to cap an important drive to begin the second half and put the Eagles up 19-6 with 7:23 left in the third quarter. That made up for his first-half red zone fumble a bit. Boley completed 14 of 22 passes for 160 yards.

“We definitely weren’t on our A game, personally, myself, but it’s awesome to know that I don’t have to be perfect night in and night out and we can still come out here and win games against good teams,” Boley said.

Pikeville took a 6-0 lead on quarterback Isaac Duty’s 5-yard run early in the first quarter. With the Panthers trailing 25-6 in the fourth quarter, Brenden Anthony broke a 45-yard TD run to narrow the gap. The Panthers trailed LCA 13-6 at half.

“We really really challenged our guys at halftime, because our opening drive was really, really important to get a little distance between them,” Charles said. “Credit to Pikeville … they are a well-coached team, their guys are country tough and if there’s a better team in Class A, I want to see ‘em.”

Lexington Christian’s Brady Hensley runs into the end zone for one of his four touchdowns against Pikeville on Saturday at White, Greer & Maggard Stadium.

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