Boyle County runs past Lexington Catholic for crucial district win

Published 12:44 am Saturday, October 14, 2017

Boyle County wasn’t spooked by the big stage on Friday the 13th.

The Rebels finally won their big game, beating Lexington Catholic 48-17 to end a four-game skid to their district rival.

“Really even more important than beating Lexington Catholic, we learned how to win a big game,” Boyle County head coach Chuck Smith said. “We’ve been talking about it, working towards it, putting work in towards it but we haven’t executed it until tonight. That’s what I’m most proud of, these guys found a way to win the game.”

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Both teams started sluggish, with neither team scoring on the first three possessions of the game.

But the Rebels’ second possession lasted just four plays, when Landen Bartleson finished a 76-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown run.

Bartleson and fellow running back Tanner Crawford feasted behind a dominant offensive line: Both averaged nearly 10 yards per carry. As a team, the Rebels amassed 401 yards on the ground on 43 carries.

“Keys to the game, I thought our offensive line was just outstanding,” coach Smith said.

The Knights were quick to respond to Boyle’s first score, needing just four plays of their own to go 72 yards for a score. Beau Allen hit Dameon Jones for a 43-yard touchdown, tying the score at 7-7 before the end of the quarter.

Crawford would score his first  touchdown of the game on the Rebels’ first drive of the second quarter. The Rebels took a 13-7 lead after a blocked point after attempt.

Lexington Catholic would score a 26-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter. The Rebels entered halftime with a 13-10 lead.

From there, it was all Rebels. Boyle would score the next 28 points.

But the halftime team talk wasn’t awe-inspiring, coach Smith said. He just wanted his team to stay the course, and good things would come.

“I just told them to keep playing hard. That’s all we needed to do, keep playing hard,” he said. “I thought our star players were stars tonight. They stepped up. Great players always play big in big games and our guys did. That and I thought our defense played lights out.”

Crawford scored three times in the second half, while Reed Lanter and Reese Smith connected two times for scores from 23 and 15 yards out.

Crawford’s runs — 16, 56 and 16 — pushed him over 200 yards total. He finished with 22 carries for 209 yards and four scores.

Bartleson, meanwhile, carried 14 times for 149 yards and a touchdown.

The Rebels took advantage of speed on the outside through the air and on the ground. Reese Smith finished with five catches for 82 yards and two scores through the air and three carries for 22 yards on the ground. Nick Walker had two carries for 14 yards and seven catches for 61 yards.

The scary statistic for Class 3A, however, was zero turnovers.

“That’s the key, that’s part of learning how to win a big game that we’ve talked about,” coach Smith said. “Every big game that we’ve lost, we’ve had three to five turnovers. You just can’t win big games like that. That was one of the things we needed to do in order to win a big game.”

Coach Smith also noted senior Mitchell Paycheck — who played both ways on Friday for the first time all year  — as a player who set the tone.

“He played his heart out,” coach Smith said. “We didn’t know he was going to play both ways till Wednesday, Ned Stephens got hurt in practice and wasn’t able to play. Mitchell stepped up and played his heart out, he’s one of our leaders.”

Games continue to get bigger for the Rebels, with a game against Western Hills next week as the deciding game in the district. A win would give Boyle its first undefeated district run since 2013.