It took a while for Boyle County to get things rolling in its first road playoff game, but once it did the defending Class 3A champs looked like a team more than capable of getting back to Kroger Field.
The Rebels overcame a 10-0 deficit in the second quarter to leave the mountains with a 41-24 victory over Belfry, handing the Pirates their fourth home playoff loss in the history of CAM Stadium and the first in 10 years Friday night in the region finals of the Class 3A KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl.
Reese Smith scored four times — all touchdown receptions from fellow junior Reed Lanter — including both of the Rebels’ first-half TDs, the second one giving them a 13-10 edge with 22.3 seconds left before the break.
“It was definitely big,” Smith said. “They’d only been beaten two or three times on their home field in the playoffs so we knew they were gonna come ready to play and we had to bring our A game. We knew it was gonna be a dog fight for four quarters.”
Reiley Colwick scored on a 59-yard reception from Lanter 16 seconds into the second half to extend Boyle’s lead to 20-10 but Belfry’s Brett Coleman responded with a 35-yard TD run to pull the Pirates back within three a couple minutes later. Belfry forced a Boyle punt on its subsequent drive and got to the Rebels’ 30 before losing a fumble, the Pirates’ fourth loss of the night.
Boyle County capitalized quickly — Lanter to Smith for the third time — to go up 27-17. Ben Bentley fumbled the kickoff but recovered it for a 99-yard return to bring Belfry back within three points again with 4:12 remaining in the third quarter. The Pirates recovered a Boyle fumble but the Rebels got it back soon thereafter after Smith intercepted Belfry’s Kevin Browning; 30 seconds later he scored his final TD to put Boyle up 34-24.
Tanner Crawford put the cherry on top for the Rebels with a scoring run from 1 yard out with 7:15 left.
“We stayed true to what we had practiced and what we knew and to our reads and our keys,” Boyle County Coach Chuck Smith said. “We ended up making the plays we needed to make to get the stops when we needed the stops. I’m really proud of our offense. Once we got it felt out, they started hitting the big plays.”
Lanter was 16 of 26 for 264 yards. Smith hauled in six of those receptions for 138 yards, while Colwick had five for 75. Crawford rushed for 77 yards on 22 carries.
Smith, whose list of offers includes the University of Kentucky and Tennessee, got a lot of extra attention from Belfry’s safeties.
“For the most part everyone knows who I am, but I just do what I do,” Smith said with a grin.
Belfry had not lost a home playoff since 2009, when Sheldon Clark defeated the Pirates 20-14.
“There hadn’t been many people come into Belfry and win here,” Chuck Smith said. “It’s a tough place to win and they’ve got a great football team, but y’know, the Boyle County Rebels found a way to get it done. That’s all that matters.”
Boyle County’s title defense will continue on the road next week at Corbin, whom it defeated, 40-21, in last year’s championship round to win the program’s eighth state title. The Redhounds defeated Bell County, 42-16, in the regional round on Friday.
Chuck Smith doesn’t think his players will lack for motivation.
“They get to practice on Thanksgiving,” he said. “That ought to fire em up, that fires me up. I love practicing on Thanksgiving.”