As players went down, penalties mounted and tempers flared, Lexington Catholic could have been left for dead.
One thing, though.
The Knights refused to go down Friday night, storming from behind to edge visiting Boyle County 24-21.
The big district matchup wasn't decided until Will Harris was wide left on a potential game-tying field goal with 5.2 seconds left.
Catholic (6-1, 2-0 district) won its fifth game in a row despite losing linebacker Josh Messmer, quarterback Kyle Bolin and receiver Sam Letton, all in the first half.
Add to that nine penalties for 95 yards, one of the calls negating a touchdown. The Knights also bitterly argued calls that they thought should have ended in a fumble recovery and an interception.
"No, I was not a happy camper to say the least," said Coach Bill Letton, who was flagged for a personal foul. "We had penalties and turnovers and it seemed like the breaks — the calls — weren't going our way. But to credit our kids, they overcame a whole lot in that second half."
Boyle (3-4) took a 21-12 lead when Seph Burke returned an interception 22 yards for a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage in the second half.
The Rebels had a chance to add to their lead in the third quarter, only to be stopped on downs at the Catholic 5 and then to see Casey Nash block a 27-yard field-goal attempt.
Amoh Kumengisa, who would finish with 11 carries for 106 yards and three touchdowns, started Catholic's rally with a 41-yard touchdown sprint with 8:23 left.
"Boyle County's a big rivalry. It all comes down to who makes the most plays, who really wants it," Kumengisa said. "Tonight, we just really wanted it. My line was going to do their thing and I had them all the way."
Reese Ryan, who came on in relief of Bolin (lower leg injury), completed first-down passes on the two plays preceding Kumengisa's run.
"I just got kind of nervous when I saw (Bolin) limping off the field," said Ryan, who ended 7-for-11 for 122 yards, with two picks. "I was just trying to get my mind set over there, get my confidence up."
Less than four minutes after Kumengisa's score, David Bouvier returned a Boyle County punt 59 yards for an apparent TD, but a block in the back brought the ball back to the Rebels 22.
Kumengisa ran off left tackle, all the way to the end zone, on the next play for a 24-21 lead with 4:57 left.
Boyle made a last try, driving from its 20 to the Catholic 7 before turning to its kicker.
"That's a chance you take when you kick the ball. The kid's an excellent kicker," Rebels Coach Larry French said. "We just had one blocked. We let them get penetration and he blocked it, made a good play. They made plays and we didn't make the plays. I think that's the difference in the ball game."
Boyle led 14-12 in a wild first half that saw both teams score in the final 22 seconds.
The Rebels struck first, on Burke's 6-yard run, with 6:45 left in the half. Catholic, held to a single first down to that point, scored 1:03 later.
The Knights got a 27-yard kickoff return by Marcelis Logan, then reeled off four first downs on four plays to reach the Boyle 1. Kumengisa scored from there, but a missed PAT kick left Boyle with a 7-6 lead.
The Rebels made that 14-6 with 22 seconds left in the half. Lloyd Hall took Casey Little's short pass and bolted 57 yards to the end zone.
Catholic countered as time expired in the half, on a 38-yard pass from Ryan to Sam Letton. The latter made a leaping catch, but suffered a concussion when his head slammed to the turf.
"They made plays on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively, in that fourth quarter. And they won the football game because they made plays. And we didn't make plays," French said. "I don't fault our kids' effort. I thought our kids gave a tremendous effort. But we had opportunities in the second and third quarter to blow this game out, and we didn't capitalize."
Boyle County 0 14 7 0—21
Lexington Catholic 0 12 0 12—24
BC—Seph Burke 6 run (Will Harris kick); LC—Amoh Kumengisa 1 run (kick failed); BC—Lloyd Hall 57 from Casey Whittle (Harris kick); LC—Sam Letton 38 pass from Reese Ryan (pass failed); BC—Burke 22 interception return (Harris kick); LC—Kumengisa 41 run (pass failed); LC—Kumengisa 22 run (kick failed). Records—BC: 3-4; LC: 6-1.
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com