The win sets up a rematch with Rockcastle County for the district title and makes Dudley Hilton the second winningest coach in Kentucky high school football history.
Hilton's record improves to 293-95 for his career and he passed long-time North Hardin coach Joe Jaggers for the second spot. Newport Central Catholic's Bob Schneider is the leader and got win number 308 Friday night.
“For right now I can say I'm the all-time leader in wins at a public school at least,” Hilton said. “Joe Jaggers was a great football coach. When I got started I never thought about being in a position to catch him.”
He thanked his players during a postgame speech on the field after the game for helping him to reach the milestone.
“It's not something that we've really said a lot about, but I got a little emotional and wanted these kids to be a part of it,” he said. “I just wanted to thank them - Really, it's not about me, it's about them.”
After getting shutout by the Bobcats 22-0 two weeks ago, Knox Central need just under six minutes to get on the scoreboard Friday night. Brandon Tolliver ran in from three yards out to put the Panthers up 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
“I think we maybe came out a little too emotional and did some things we don't normally do,” Hilton said. “(Knox Central coach) Wayne's (Mills) bunch hit us hard and took the lead. But we're not here for shutouts, we're here to win.”
Bell answered right back. They drove 64 yards on seven plays. The big play was a 32-yard pass from Kyle Nelson to Shawnta Zachery and Spencer Greer finished it off with a two yard run.
On the Panther's next possession, Brent Slusher ripped the ball away from Tolliver at Central 18 and ran it in for a touchdown.
Justin Dozier's blocked punt gave Bell a short field to work with on their next possession and the Bobcats capitalized as Nelson passed to Zachery for a five-yard TD. Monte Merrick's kick made it 21-7 with 11:07 still to play in the half.
The Bobcat's got the ball back late in the half and Nelson hooked up with Zachery for a 28 yard gain. He then pass to Greer for seven yards and after an incompletion found Zachery in the end zone from ten yards out. With just 11 seconds to go in the half, Bell led it 28-7.
After the teams traded possessions to start the third quarter, Bell went on another long drive. Slusher again provided the big play as he took a swing pass, broke a tackle and rumbled for a 32-yard gain down to the 18-yard line. Five plays later Nelson passed to Matt Simpson for the score and Bell led it 35-7 late in the third quarter.
The Panthers used play-action to cut into the lead on their next possession. Quarterback Corey Smith faked a pitch to the right, then rolled out to his left. The Bell secondary bit on the fake and little Dexter Carnes got open deep. Smith hit him and he ran it all the way in for a 77-yard touchdown. A two-point conversion try was no good and the score remained 35-13 at the end of the third quarter.
Neither team scored in the fourth, but Bell put together a long drive to take the final five-plus minutes off the clock and preserve the win.
“We played well tonight. Knox had a couple of turnovers, but I really think that we caused them,” Hilton said. “We must just be 22 points better than them this year, that's what we won by both time we played.”
Next week Bell (9-2) will travel to Rockcastle County (10-1). The Rockets beat Clay County 39-12 Friday night.
“Rock is going to be ready for us and they'll be tough,” Hilton said. “It's one we're just going to have to go and play. We'll give it our best shot and see what happens.”
- - -
Knox Central 7 0 6 0 - 13
Bell County 14 14 7 0 - 35
KC- Tolliver 3 run (Phillips kick)
B - Greer 2 run (run failed)
B - BSlusher 18 fumble return (Nelson run)
B - Zachery 5 pass from Nelson (Merrick kick)
B - Zachery 10 pass from Nelson (Merrick kick)
B - Simpson 4 pass from Nelson (Merrick kick)
KC - Carnes 77 pass from Smitth (pass failed)
First Downs 10 15
Total Yards 217 299
Rushes-Yards 37-114 39-160
Passing Yards 103 139
Passing 4-12-0 10-19-0
Fumbles/Lost 1/1 1/0
Turnovers 1 0
Penalties/Yards 2/15 8/73
RUSHING - Knox Central: Tolliver 19-98, Brandstutter 7-19, Phillips 5-11, Smith 5-(-12). Bell: Greer 16-64, Simpson 9-39, Christopher 5-21, Harbin 4-11, RSlusher 2-10, BSlusher 1-9, Nelson 2-6.
PASSING - Knox Central: Smith 4-11-103-0, Ellenburg 0-1-0-0. Bell: Nelson 10-19-139-0.
RECEIVING - Knox Central: Ellenburg 2-13, Carnes 1-77, Williamson 1-13. Bell: Zachery 6-90, Greer 2-16, BSlusher 1-32, Simpson 1-4.