Middlesboro turned the ball over eight times and just never could stop the Pikeville offense on Friday in a 77-46 on the road.
A high scoring game was expected, but nothing like that. It went back-and-forth early as the Panthers scored on their opening possession and Middlesboro answered when Austin Poindexter hauled in a Donnie Foister pass for a touchdown. The extra point was no good so Pikeville led 7-6.
Pikeville scored again and Ryan Pittman returned the following kick 75 yard for a touchdown to make it 14-12. The Panthers scored again on a long touchdown pass to go up 21-12 on the last play of the first quarter.
That’s when the turnover bug bit the Jackets hard. Three straight times they either lost a fumble or failed to cover a squib kick and Pikeville took advantage of short fields to score three quick touchdowns and take a 42-12 lead before the midway point of the second quarter.
The Jackets battled back with short touchdown runs by Pittman and Foister to get as close as 42-26. Pikeville scored again and Middlesboro lost another fumble before halftime and they went into the locker room down 49-26.
Pittman capped a strong drive to open the second half with a one-yard plunge and the two-point conversion got MHS within 15 points, at 49-34 early in the third quarter.
Middlesboro nearly got that elusive defensive stop as Pikeville faced a fourth and 11 at the Jacket 43. They converted when Austin Charles hooked up with Cody Estep for a 32-yard gain. Two plays later Chase Hall scored from four yard out and L.J. Allara’s kick made it 56-34 with 4:39 left in the third quarter.
The Jackets lost another fumble and the Panthers scored on a 74-yard touchdown pass to put the game out of reach at 63-34.
Foister connected with Poindexter for a 16-yard touchdown before the end of the third quarter, but 63-40 was as close as Middlesboro would get and Pikeville went on to the 31-point win.
Pikeville (5-1) had an open date next week and will host South Floyd on Oct. 11. Middlesboro (4-1) host Union, Va., on Friday.