TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By Les Dixon For the Times-Tribune
WILLIAMSBURG — It's been a long time coming, but Jerry Herron's Williamsburg Yellow Jackets finally got over the hump.
After falling to Hazard in the Class A, Region 3 championship game the past two years, the Yellow Jackets turned the tables on the defending region champions, scoring on their first offensive possession while never looking back during a 21-7 win in front of a standing room only crowd at Rose-Stanfill Stadium.
“I'm telling you, I don't know what to say, I don't know what to say. I'm speechless for the first time in my life,” Herron said. “This all started years ago when I got the job and we decided to work on this feeder program and do some of the things we did. Coach (Jim) Black laid a good foundation for us and he left, and we just kept working and building and building and building to where we are at now.
“The feeder program is unbelievable, the kids played hard and I don't know what to say, they just came out and played unbelievably hard,” he added. “They played a good football team and put up 21 points. I'm so happy for this football team. I'm so happy for the program. I mean, we have failed so many times, 73 or 74 years of football we didn't get it done, and we finally got it done. It's like, 'are you kidding me?' We done it, we finally won a region. These kids don't want to settle.”
Williamsburg has been known for its offensive fireworks, but this time around, the Yellow Jacket defense turned in quite a show for the fifth straight game, forcing Hazard into four turnovers while limiting Bulldog star tailback Brandon Jones to under 100 yards rushing. Herron's squad has outscored its opponents 221-7 during the past five games.
The 14-point win extended Herron's squad's win streak to eight games, while Williamsburg snapped Hazard's 11-game win streak in the process.
“We've been practicing since May to get to this point,” Herron said. “We're finally here. We're finally over the hump and I can't believe it. We finally did it. We finally did it after being so close. We finally got0 that gold trophy — a region championship. Now we have a shot at going further.”
The Yellow Jackets' Corey Shelton came up big in the win, catching two touchdowns passes for 38 and 36 yards while finishing the game with more than 100 yards receiving. He also had an interception in the win.
Williamsburg will now host Raceland in the Class A State Semifinals Friday with the winner advancing the Class A state championship game. The Rams defeated Pikeville, 14-3, to earn a date with the Yellow Jackets.
“We'll see. They are a big, strong football team,” Herron said. “The winner goes to the state championship game. I don't even know what to say. I can't believe it.”
For a team that had been shut out for eight straight quarters by Hazard, Williamsburg was on the attack early, and reached Bulldog territory on its first two possessions of the game.
The Yellow Jackets advanced to the Hazard 23-yard line before the drive stalled, despite seeing Dalton Sizemore hit Corey Shelton for a 14-yard game which highlighted the drive.
After stopping the Bulldogs on a three-and-out on their first possession, Williamsburg managed to find paydirt this time around.
Sizemore's 38-yard touchdown strike to Shelton with 6:11 remaining in the first quarter capped off a five-play, 65-yard drive to take an early 7-0 edge.
Hazard responded with a scoring drive of its own, as tailback Brandon Jones carried the ball eight times during the 13-play, 60-yard drive, including diving into the endzone at the 11:54 mark of the second quarter, which tied the game at seven apiece.
Both teams struggled to move the ball early in the second quarter with Hazard taking the first big chance of the game, going for it on a fourth and one situation on its own 36-yard line.
The decision backfired.
The Bulldogs fumbled the ball, and Williamsburg recovered, but couldn't score despite driving to the Bulldog 19-yard line. After stopping Hazard on its ensuing drive, the Yellow Jackets stepped up on its next drive, as Sizemore found Shelton open for a 34-yard touchdown pass, giving his team a 14-7 advantage with 1:12 remaining in the first half.
Hazard drove down to the Yellow Jacket five-yard line with seconds remaining in the second quarter, but couldn't get another playoff as time expired while allowing Williamsburg to take a 14-7 lead into the locker room at the half.
The Yellow Jackets made the first big play in the second, and it eventually led to another Williamsburg touchdown. A Skyler Griffith interception on Hazard's first offensive series on the second half, gave his team good field position at the Bulldog 35-yard line.
After seeing Herron's squad convert on a fourth and six situation at the Hazard 12-yard line, Chase Lowrie scored from four yards out one play later, giving his team a 21-7 edge with 7:44 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs tried to put together a scoring drive of their own, but once again their drive stalled deep in Williamsburg territory, as the Yellow Jacket defense stepped up again and stopped Hazard on a fourth and two situation with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Williamsburg defense continued to shine in the fourth quarter, forcing two more turnovers while the Bulldogs were driving. Hazard fumbled the ball early in the fourth quarter, but a Shelton interception at the Yellow Jacket 19-yard line kept the Bulldogs from getting back in the game, as Williamsburg's offense put the game away by picking up a couple of interceptions while running out the clock in the process.