BOWLING GREEN — Boyle County won five state football championships in scorched-earth style from 1999-2003, roaring to easy victories in every title game.
The Rebels' sixth state championship was a more dramatic and improbable story.
Trailing underdog Lone Oak 29-19 with less than five minutes left, Boyle County rallied to tie it, then won 42-39 in double-overtime in front of 6,837 fans in L.T. Smith Stadium on Friday afternoon.
"You gotta give those kids in the black a lot of credit," Coach Larry French said as he watched his black-clad Rebels celebrate their undefeated (15-0) championship season.
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"We had everything in the world go against us for three quarters, but we finally got back in it and won it. The kids just wouldn't be denied."
Boyle County senior star and Mr. Football candidate Rees MacShara had a big day. He ran 31 times for 190 yards and a touchdown, and caught three passes for 100 yards, including a 70-yard TD.
"It's amazing to bring a state title back to Boyle County," said MacShara, who finished the season with 3,068 rushing yards and 49 TDs.
But Rebels defensive tackle Paul Megilligan delivered the biggest play of the game.
With Lone Oak holding a 10-point lead with less than five minutes left, Megilligan blocked Jack Coorts' punt, and Boyle County got the ball at the Purple Flash 16.
"Coach told us at halftime to show heart, so I went for it," Megilligan said.
Three plays later, Boone Goldsmith hit Lamar Dawson with a 6-yard touchdown pass. Phillip Barsotti's extra point made it 29-26 with 4:05 left.
The Rebels' defense then did its job, forcing a three-and-out punt by Lone Oak. The rushed kick went only 12 yards, and Boyle County took over at the 33.
After running two plays and burning its last timeout, the Rebels wound up having to hurry its field goal unit onto the field as the play clock wound down.
Barsotti, who kicked a field goal with no time left to win last week's semifinal showdown with Bell County, came through again with a 38-yarder to tie it 29-29 with four seconds left.
"He's Mr. Clutch," French said.
Lone Oak's coaches protested that the play clock had run out before the snap on the field goal.
"The clock expired and the play should've been blown dead," Coach Jack Haskins said. "But it's hard (for the officials) to watch the clock and the ball. The bottom line is, the kid made it."
After the teams exchanged TDs in the first overtime, Lone Oak had to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Coorts in the second OT.
That set the stage for Boyle County to win it.
The Rebels got the decisive TD on Goldsmith's fourth-down quarterback sneak from the 1, but Goldsmith shrugged off any personal glory.
"We needed the whole team to pull this off," he said. "It ain't just the offense and it ain't just the defense. The special teams got in there and made plays, too. Everybody played together."
Goldsmith admitted that Lone Oak was better than the Rebels thought. The Purple Flash outplayed Boyle County for much of the afternoon.
In the first half, quarterback Cameron Looper completed 20 of 25 passes for 196 yards and two TDs as the underdogs took a 22-7 lead.
Looper was 32-for-41 for 301 yards and three TDs for the game. Matt Starks ran for 49 yards and a score, and caught 13 passes for 45 yards and two TDs.
But it wasn't enough.
"We didn't finish it," Haskins said. "The big play was the blocked punt. The ironic thing was, we worked on our punt blocking all week."
This was the sixth time Haskins has come up empty in the finals. He coached Heath to a runner-up finish in 1975. He was an assistant at Paducah Tilghman when it was runner-up three years in a row (1987-89). And his Lone Oak team lost to Lexington Catholic in 2007.
"One of these days I'm going to win one," he said. "I don't know when, but I'm going to win one."
French finally got his championship after almost four decades as a head coach. The closest he came before Friday was when he guided Meade County to a runner-up finish in 1991.
"I finally get to taste one," he said, "and it sure feels great."
Boyle Co. 42, Lone Oak 39 (2OT)
Lone Oak 3 19 7 0 7 3—39
Boyle Co. 7 0 6 16 7 6—42
First quarter: LO—Jack Coorts 30 field goal, 7:48. BC—Rees MacShara 3 run (Phillip Barsotti kick), 5:26. Second quarter: LO—Matt Starks 2 run (Coorts kick), 11:56. LO—M.Starks 11 pass from Cameron Looper (kick failed), 5:35. LO—Felix Colon 48 pass from Looper (kick failed). Third quarter: BC—MacShara 70 pass from Boone Goldsmith (pass failed), 9:57. LO—M.Starks 6 pass from Looper (Coorts kick), 4:01. Fourth quarter: BC—Zach Hester 8 pass from Goldsmith (pass failed), 8:53. BC—Lamar Dawson 6 pass from Goldsmith (Barsotti kick), 4:05. BC—Barsotti 38 field goal, 0:04. First overtime: BC—Goldsmith 1 run (Barsotti kick). LO—Looper 3 run (Coorts kick). Second overtime: LO—Coorts 26 field goal. BC—Goldsmith 1 run.
Records: Boyle Co. 15-0, Lone Oak 14-1.
First downs 24 24
Rushes-yards 25-99 43-218
Passing 301 205
Comp-att-int 32-41-0 12-20-0
Punt returns 1-0 1-14
Kickoff returns 4-61 5-68
Interceptions ret. 0-0 0-0
Sacked-yards lost 1-2 0-0
Punts 4-22.2 3-34.7
Field goals 2-2 1-1
Fumbles lost 1-0 2-1
Penalties-yards 4-36 10-94
Third-down conv. 2-11 5-11
Fourth-down conv. 3-3 2-2
RUSHING—Lone Oak, M.Starks 12-49, Looper 10-30, J.Starks 3-20. Boyle Co., MacShara 31-190, Cook 2-21, Goldsmith 8-10, Dawson 2-(-3).
PASSING—Lone Oak, Looper 32-41-0-401. Boyle Co., Goldsmith 12-19-0-205, team 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING—Lone Oak, M.Starks 13-45, Beyer 8-96, Colon 5-82, J.Starks 5-66, Hill 1-12. Boyle Co., MacShara 3-100, Hester 3-44, Tritapoe 2-39, Dawson 2-17, Harrington 1-6, Givhan 1-(-1).