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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Beechwood won its 14th Kentucky football title and third straight by outlasting playoff rival Pikeville 21-20 in a thrilling, seesaw Class 1A final Friday afternoon.
Sophomore quarterback Cameron Hergott’s 1-yard TD plunge with 9:42 left in the game and the extra point made the difference, thanks to Pikeville’s two missed extra points earlier in the game.
With Pikeville driving for a go-ahead score, John Odom’s interception in the endzone with 1:07 left saved the day for the Tigers.
"My heart was in my chest the whole time. I can tell you that right now," Odom said after the game. "It was nuts. It was nuts. It was awesome."
"John Odom is just a great young man and a great football player," coach Noel Rash said. "It makes sense that he made that kind of play in one of the most crucial moments in this team's life."
Hergott threw two first-half touchdown passes to stake the Tigers to a 14-6 halftime lead.
WATCH: Hergott talks about being a sophomore under fire.
Big plays by Pikeville quarterback Connor Roberts, named the state’s Class 1A player of the year at halftime, almost did the Tigers in. Roberts threw three TD passes of 57, 65 and 25 yards.
Pikeville got one last chance when Beechwood turned the ball over at Pikeville’s 21-yard line with 3:38 remaining. Christian Billiter's long fourth-down catch over Odum got Pikeville to the Beechwood 33 with 1:16 left. Roberts tried to hit Billiter again, but Odom stole it and the Tigers ran out the clock.
WATCH: Odom thought he cost Beechwood the game on that long pass.
The game matched two 11-2 teams at the start in one of the state’s best playoff rivalries. Pikeville (11-3) won their last meeting in the 2015 Class 1A state final, 42-28. Beechwood (12-2) had won the last two Class 1A crowns.
Both offenses tried to get the edge in the first quarter by going for it on fourth down, but both defenses rose up and stuffed the plays. After a scoreless first quarter, the Tigers jumped ahead 7-0 on Hergott’s 24-yard TD pass to Luke Bolger with 10:51 left in second quarter.
Pikeville answered after the kickoff when Roberts connected with Jackson Hensley on a 57-yard scoring strike. But Pikeville missed the extra point and Beechwood kept a 7-6 lead.
The Tigers went up 14-6 when Hergott threw 19 yards to Logan Castleman with 5:14 left in the first half. Beechwood had an opportunity to stretch its first-half lead when it recovered a pooch kick in Pikeville territory. But the Tigers couldn’t take advantage and turned the ball over on downs.
Five minutes into the third quarter, Roberts threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Hensley, pulling Pikeville within 14-12 at the 5:31 mark. The Panthers went for the two-point conversion but couldn't convert.
No matter. Pikeville recovered an onside kick at the Beechwood 49. Roberts' third touchdown pass - a 25-yarder to Billiter – put Pikeville ahead, and Roberts ran for the two-point conversion to make it 20-14 with 2:52 left in the third quarter.
Beechwood pilled up yards on the ground with Hergott and Castleman rushing for 105 and 101 yards, respectively. Hergott completed 11 of 14 passes for 74 yards.
Pikeville relied almost solely on Roberts. He completed 10 of 15 for 243 yards and rushed 10 times for 31 yards. Henley caught four passes for 154 yards. The Panthers rushed for only 65 yards on 22 carries against the Beechwood defense.
WATCH Beechwood players celebrate 14th state title.
This was the 14th playoff meeting between Beechwood and Pikeville, and Beechwood now has 10-4 advantage. Since 1984, they have met in three championship games and 11 semifinals. However, the rivalry will be suspended next year when Beechwood moves up to Class 2A and Pikeville stays in Class 1A.
Beechwood is now 14-5 all-time in state finals with the third most titles in Kentucky history behind Louisville Trinity (25) and Highlands (23). Pikeville is 4-4.