DANVILLE — Defending Class 4A football champion Boyle County ran its state-best winning streak to 28 in a row, but the Rebels were pretty much out of breath when they reached the finish line of a 45-35 victory over Lexington Catholic Friday night.
"That was a little of an offensive shoot—out — their passing game against our rushing game," Boyle County Coach Larry French said.
"We're fortunate to move on."
This was the third consecutive year the Rebels eliminated Lexington Catholic in a close region final.
Knights Coach Bill Letton called it "another classic" between the archrivals.
"It's a shame either team had to lose," he said. "They made a few more plays in their ground game than we did in our passing game."
Boyle County (13-0) will visit Bell County (13-0) next week in the state semifinals for the third year in a row.
"This is what we work for every year," said Rebels junior running back Devon Cox. "It's a tradition now. It's the biggest game there is, even bigger than the state."
Two years ago Bell County beat the Rebels on its way to an undefeated state title. Last year Boyle County edged the Bobcats on a last-second field goal on its way to a perfect championship season.
If the Rebels hope to beat Bell County again, French said they must play better defense than they did against Lexington Catholic.
The Knights' passing attack sliced up Boyle County, especially in the second half.
Sophomore quarterback Kyle Bolin completed 28 of 43 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns, and no picks. Adam Bush had a huge night — 11 receptions for 192 yards and two TDs.
"I was a little disappointed in our defense," French said. "We gave up way too many points."
But Lexington Catholic couldn't stop Boyle County's relentless ground game.
Cox did the most damage. He carried 14 times for 245 yards, including TD runs of 61 and 57 yards.
"I had a lot of running room out there," Cox said. "I just kept running as hard as I could."
Chris Cook ran 13 times for 99 yards. Lamar Dawson got the call late in the game and rushed eight times for 88 yards and two clinching TDs in the closing minutes.
The Rebels finished with 483 yards rushing and 603 total yards.
Boyle County led 17-7 at halftime, and Lexington Catholic had only 85 total yards.
But the Knights cranked it up in the second half, piling up 342 yards, mostly through the air. Besides Bush, Luke Fish and Nate Letton were prime targets, combining for 13 catches and 126 yards.
Lexington Catholic closed the gap to three points several times — at 17-14, 24-21, 31-28 and 38-35 — but each time Boyle County answered with another TD. Cox said he wasn't surprised by the Knights' resiliency.
"They said straight up in the paper that they were going to keep coming at us and keep playing," Cox said. "They did. They played a great game."
Rebels' kicker Will Harris took advantage of his extra-point opportunities to set a state record. He was a perfect 7-for-7 on PATs, extending his consecutive streak to 81. That broke the record of 76 set by Max Oldham of Bowling Green two years ago.
Lexington Catholic 0 7 14 14—35
Boyle County 14 3 7 21—45
BC—Blake Mason 72 pass from Devon Hale. (Will Harris kick). BC—Chris Cook 20 pass from Hale (Harris kick). LC—Adam Bush 20 passs from Kyle Bolin (Jake Pumphrey kick). BC—Harris 19 field goal. LC—Bolin 4 run (Pumphrey kick). BC—Devon Cox 57 run (Harris kick). LC—Bush 32 pass from Bolin (Pumphrey kick). BC—Cox 61 run (Harris kick). BC—Lamar Dawson 3 run (Harris kick). LC—Bolin 2 run (Pumphrey kick). BC—Dawson 21 run (Harris kick).
Records—Lexington Catholic 7-6; Boyle County 13-0