Timely turnovers the key for Rebels in win at Elizabethtown
Published 11:48 pm Friday, November 24, 2017
ELIZABETHTOWN – When Clete Hellyer came down with the ball in his hands, he knew exactly what it meant: Boyle County was going to the state finals.
Hellyer helped Boyle take the last step of a long, hard road back to the finals Friday night when his interception with 28 seconds to play sealed the Rebels’ 14-7 victory over Elizabethtown in a Class 3A semifinal.
It was the second of two crucial fourth-quarter interception that gave visiting Boyle its shot at a championship – and it was the first time Hellyer had ever felt this way.
Email newsletter signup
“I’m absolutely ecstatic,” Hellyer said. “It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my – it’s the best feeling I’ve ever had in my entire life.”
Kaden Gervacio knew exactly how his teammate felt. Gervacio’s interception at the E-town 18-yard line with 4:28 remaining set up the winning touchdown, which came on a 1-yard run by Landen Bartleson with 2:26 to play.
“It was amazing, just this rush of energy I had,” Gervacio said. “I just couldn’t stop screaming. It was awesome.”
Bartleson’s TD a 7-7 tie in a battle between two defenses that refused to give an inch that played out before a standing-room only crowd at Panther Field.
Hellyer’s interception two minutes later secured Boyle’s spot in the state finals. Boyle (13-1) will play Corbin (13-1), a 21-20 winner over Central on Friday, for the Class 3A title next Friday at Kroger Field in Lexington.
It will be the Rebels’ first appearance in the finals since 2010 – their most recent championship season – and the first since coach Chuck Smith, whose teams won five consecutive championships from 1999-2003, returned to Boyle in 2014.
“It means the world to me,” Smith said. “Every Boyle County kid should have a chance to experience it. But experiencing it is not enough. We want to win it. We’re not done yet.”
The two teams combined for 460 yards, but this was very much a defensive struggle between the Rebels, who were averaging 48.4 points per game, and the Panthers, who averaged 43 points.
The game played out much closer to the teams’ defensive averages: 13.1 points per game allowed by Boyle, 9.2 by Elizabethtown.
“It was a tremendous effort by our defense. Our defense played lights out, and they played so many snaps in the first half,” Smith said. “Our offense just kind of felt it out … and I told them at halftime, ‘Listen, they outplayed us in the first half, but all we’ve got to do is take a deep breath and relax and play Boyle County football, what got you here, and they did.”
Elizabethtown (12-2) had two long drives that produced nothing in the first half, while Boyle never reached the red zone. The Rebels reached the Panthers’ 3-yard line midway through the third quarter before Harrison Mesplay’s 20-yard field goal attempt was blocked by E-town’s Logan Greenwell.
The Rebels drove 54 yard in nine plays for their first score, which came with 9:02 to play when Reese Smith made a diving catch in the end zone on a 6-yard pass by Reed Lanter, who was 16 for 25 for 166 yards.
E-town answered with a six-play, 53-yard drive capped by a 25-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-5 by Tyler Durbin, who was 15 for 25 for 143 yards with three interceptions.
The Panthers stopped the Rebels on downs, then gave the ball back two plays later when Gervacio picked off Durbin. Bartleson, who rushed 20 times for 67 yards, carried the ball five times to produce the tiebreaking TD.
E-town got one first down on its ensuing series but faced third-and-9 when Hellyer picked off Durbin at the 36-yard line.
“I was pass-rushing, and I felt (the receiver) come up behind me. I knew I wasn’t going to get to the quarterback fast enough, so I dropped back and I saw the ball in the air, and I reacted and tried my best and I ended up catching the ball.”
Boyle County 0 0 0 14 – 14
Elizabethtown 0 0 0 7 – 7
Boyle – Reese Smith 6 pass from Reed Lanter (Harrison Mesplay kick), 9:02.
Elizabethtown – Kass Disney 25 pass from Tyler Durbin (Casey Roberts kick), 7:12.
Boyle – Landen Bartleson 1 run (Mesplay kick), 2:26.
First downs 13 12
Rushes-yards 31-95 28-56
Passing 166 143
Comp-Att-Int 16-25-0 15-26-3
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 6-39 9-82
RUSHING–Boyle, Landen Bartleson 20-67, Tanner Crawford 8-25, Kaden Gervacio 1-5, Nick Walker 1-0, team 1-(minus-2). Elizabethtown, Tyler Durbin 12-21, Jay Becherer 8-19, Donovan Huskey 5-14, Derek Smith 2-2, Kass Disney 1-0.
PASSING–Boyle, Lanter 16-25-0-166. Elizabethtown, Durbin 15-25-3-143, Becherer 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING–Boyle, Walker 4-56, Reiley Colwick 3-30, Bartleson 3-27, Sam Tiller 2-22, Reese Smith 2-21, Crawford 2-10. Elizabethtown, Disney 5-75, Noah Peeler 3-23, Becherer 3-19, Jey Gregory 3-17, Smith 1-9.