It wasn’t easy, but Paintsville coach Joe Chirico and the Tigers didn’t think it would be.
The Tigers pulled out a hard fought 36-34 win over Williamsburg Friday night in the Class A region championship.
Williamsburg was the first to get on the board early with a passing TD with 8:22 to play in the first.
The Yellow Jacket defense was able to stall the Tiger offense forcing a three and out.
However, Paintsville got a favorable roll on the punt and pinned the Yellow Jackets on their own three-yard line.
After a botched snap in the end zone, Paintsville capitalized and came away with a clutch defensive TD making the score 7-6 due to a missed PAT with 7:15 to play in the first.
Paintsville’s defense stepped up again almost immediately forcing another fumble as Nick Keeton recovered it giving the Tigers the ball on the 44-yard line.
With 2:29 to play in the first quarter, quarterback Jake Hyden rumbled in for a seven-yard TD to put the Tigers up 12-7 over the Yellow Jackets.
Williamsburg looked to test the Tigers defense, but failed as Hyden managed to come away with a big interception to put the Tigers on their own 26-yard line.
After forcing the Tigers to punt once again, Williamsburg drove a quarter of the field to score on a 12-yard TD pass putting them up over the Tigers 13-12 with 8:44 left to play in the first half.
Paintsville was marching in response to the Yellow Jacket score as Hyden threw his first pick of the game with 6:37 in the first half remaining giving the ball back to Williamsburg.
The Tiger defense once again answered the call and was able to force a three and out with 4:12 to play in the half as they got the ball on the 50.
The Paintsville offense wouldn’t let the defenses efforts go without reward as they drove down and got Hyden in for his second rushing TD of the night with only 30 seconds remaining in the first half; giving the Tigers a 20-13 lead going into the break.
Just like they opened the game the Yellow Jackets came out throwing haymakers as they returned the opening kickoff 81 yards for a TD to tie the game at 20.
However, Paintsville still had momentum and drove 63 yards as John Walker Phelps capped the drive off with a three-yard TD run leaving 8:26 left in the third quarter.
With Paintsville leading 28-20, Williamsburg answered by completing an eight-yard TD pass, but wasn’t able to convert the two-point conversion leaving the Tigers up 28-26 with 4:48 left in the third.
With 2:58 left in the third quarter, John Walker Phelps busts up the middle to go 38 yards for a touchdown to extend the Tiger lead to 36-26.
Williamsburg answered again as the fourth quarter opened to bring themselves within two points as the Tigers only held a 36-34 lead.
The Tigers were forced to punt and Williamsburg began to drive again.
With their backs against their own end zone and the Yellow Jacket offense looking to take the lead late in the fourth, the Tigers made a huge defensive stand and caused a turnover on downs to give the Tiger offense the ball on their three-yard line.
The Tigers were able to move the ball and force the Yellow Jacket to use their remaining timeouts.
Paintsville held off the Yellow Jackets and came out with the 36-34 win as they advance to play Kentucky Country Day in the next round of the state semifinals.