Even after scoring a total of 108 points in two wins this season, the Paris Greyhounds knew they’d have to step up their game to compete with perennial Class A contender Hazard.
The Bulldogs came into Blanton Collier Stadium with a Herald-Leader preseason No. 4 ranking and a 1-1 record that included a win over Class 5A’s Harlan County, a much bigger school.
But in Paris’ 22-6 victory Friday night, it was the Greyhounds who looked like a top-10 team despite a rough start and a few big-game jitters.
“We really weren’t ready for them,” confessed senior two-way standout Jakari Ransom, who scored the Greyhounds’ first touchdown on a 28-yard run in the second quarter to tie the game 6-6. “At halftime, we came in, we talked about it and we stepped up big both on defense and offense.”
Ransom’s score answered a first quarter Hazard TD pass from Max Pelfrey to Gaige Logan, but each team had difficulty gaining momentum. Both had drives end with a turnover on downs, and Hazard got an interception to start the second quarter.
But after the 6-6 tie at half, Paris began winning the field position battle early in the third quarter and got a hard-nosed, tackle-breaking 20-yard touchdown run from Jaiden Holman that gave the Greyhounds a 14-6 lead after quarterback Julius Gregory found Ransom in the end zone for the two-point conversion.
TOUCHDOWN! @ParisKYHS. Jayden Holman goes 20 hard yards and the Greyhounds lead Hazard 14-6 after the 2 pt conversion. 7:40 3Q. pic.twitter.com/EzOc2GdLkX— Jared Peck (@HLpreps) September 2, 2023
“I pulled the linemen to the side and said it’s on y’all,” Paris coach Tyquan Rice said of a group that includes Zian Webb, Cordre Patterson, King Lee and Jansen Tobin. “And they kind of changed the momentum. They put their foot on the gas and we were able to get a couple of good runs.”
Paris’ defense forced a quick three-and-out on the Bulldogs’ next possession and a sideways punt set the Greyhounds’ offense up in Hazard territory. A few plays later, Elijah Webb broke loose for a 10-yard touchdown and Paris cashed another Gregory to Ransom two-point pass for the final margin.
After a first half filled with mistakes and missed opportunities, Paris had scored two touchdowns in a three-minute span and taken control of the game.
“You’ve just got to fight through it,” Elijah Webb said. “We just had to come out and play hard, keep our composure and play harder than we did in the first half.”
Holman led Paris with 118 rushing yards and had a leaping second-half interception on defense. Ransom racked up 101 yards rushing to go with 45 yards receiving. Elijah Webb added 67 yards on the ground. Despite giving up a 62-yard Pelfrey run in the first quarter, Paris’ defense ended up allowing Hazard only 43 rushing yards thanks to a bad snap and sack of Pelfrey in the fourth quarter.
With big wins over Frankfort (50-0), Paintsville (58-12) and Hazard, Paris’ confidence is high.
“I feel we’re a great team, really great,” Ransom said. “Everybody’s stepping up.”
Paris moves to 3-0 for the first time since 2017, but the schedule ahead gets harder with a road trip to Class 5A Montgomery County next week and red-hot Class 3A Rockcastle County coming to town after that. Then it’s former district rival Bishop Brossart ahead of the new District 6 slate of Nicholas County, Raceland and Fairview.
But Rice isn’t looking that far ahead.
“I’m looking forward to next week. It’s week-to-week with me,” Rice said. “I’m already on to getting film for Montgomery County, but I tell you, we’re in an interesting spot. Nobody expected us to be here. I’m proud to be a Greyhound and glad to be right here.”
This story was originally published September 2, 2023, 8:17 AM.