Rebels pound Pulaski, 60-29

Published 7:00 am Monday, September 6, 2021

The view from the Boyle County sideline six days earlier wasn’t pretty, but Justin Haddix saw exactly what he wanted to see Friday night.

The Boyle coach saw his team bounce back from its first loss in 21 months with an impressive performance against a quality opponent.

The Rebels made big plays on both sides of the ball and on special teams and made Pulaski County pay for its mistakes in a 60-29 rout at Rebel Stadium.

And they made a happy man out of Haddix, who said he was “very impressed” with the way they responded to their loss to Lexington Christian the previous weekend.

“That’s what we want,” Haddix said. “When things don’t go your way, that’s when you really see how you feel about yourself. Are you going to grind and work every day? Our kids come to work every day and have that mentality, and we’re going to get better.”

Boyle (2-1) had to get better in a hurry after adding Pulaski (1-2), a Class 5A team with a potent passing attack, to its already difficult schedule Tuesday. The game was a replacement for the Rebels’ game against Danville, which was canceled the day before due to COVID-19 issues within the Danville program.

The Rebels had to repair a defense that surrendered 455 yards in the loss to LCA, and many of their biggest plays Friday came on defense, where they turned three interceptions and all four turnovers they forced into touchdowns.

“We came off that loss, we came back for film on Sunday and we just knew we had to get right back at it stronger than ever,” Boyle defensive back Cole Sims said.

Sims, a junior, had a pick-six for Boyle’s first defensive touchdown of the season as part of a second quarter in which the Rebels scored 28 unanswered points to take a 35-7 halftime lead. He also had a team-high 13 tackles

“What about Cole Sims?” Haddix said. “He had an opportunity, and he knew he had to practice well and he took advantage of it.”

Sims returned his interception 13 yards for a touchdown that gave Boyle a 21-7 lead.

“I just saw the play coming,” he said. “I read it and I just knew what was going to happen before it happened, and I was there.”

A third-quarter pick by sophomore Keenan Stewart led to another TD when Jagger Gillis hooked up with Hayden Kelley for a 29-yard completion to the Pulaski 3-yard line, then threw a strike to Cole Lanter in the end zone.

Junior Dalton Stone returned an interception 25 yards to the 7, then put up Boyle’s final touchdown with a 1-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The Boyle defense that allowed completions but largely kept Pulaski’s receivers from breaking away for big plays. Only four of the Maroons’ 20 completions went for more than 8 yards.

“I felt like we really went to the ball,” Haddix said.

Pulaski couldn’t keep its offense on the field. The Maroons got only nine first downs and converted on third down only twice in eight tries.

“We knew they were going to pass a lot, and we knew our DBs (defensive backs) were going to have to come together,” Boyle defensive back Avery Bodner said.

Sage Dawson recovered a fumbled punt snap on a Pulaski punt play in the first quarter to set up the Rebels’ first touchdown.

Bodner blocked a punt that led to the third of three Boyle TDs in a span of 3:07 in the second quarter. Will Alexander appeared to return to block for a touchdown, but the score was wiped out by a penalty.

Even so, the Rebels needed only two plays to score on a 29-yard run by Gillis, who threw for 208 yards and three touchdowns and led Boyle in rushing with 65 yards.

Boyle got the ball back with 1:30 left in the first half when Pulaski turned it over on downs, and Kelley capped the first half scoring with an 18-yard TD run.

Bodner and Stone scored Boyle’s first two touchdowns on runs of 2 and 1 yards.

All three of Gillis’ TD passes came in the third quarter: one to Bodner from 13 yards and two to Lanter from 3 and 1 yards. Gillis finished 17 for 22.

Boyle’s offense outgained Pulaski 430 yards to 250, getting 184 yards on the ground and 246 through the air.

“This gets us rolling, gets us in the right mindset, but we know we still got do our thing, we know that we’ve got to keep on rolling,” Bodner said.

And the Rebels know that the coming week of practice won’t be much easier just because they’re coming off a win.

“The coaches are going to keep hammering down on us,” Sims said.

On Friday night, however, Haddix heaped praise on everyone from the players and coaches to the students in a boisterous pep section.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I’m very impressed with our bunch and the way they responded,” he said.

Stepping up: Players such as Sims, Bodner and Stewart whose contributions were limited last season are making the most of their larger roles this season, and Haddix said that’s just what Boyle needed from them.

“We had some young guys step in and really make some plays tonight. That’s what we need, those guys stepping up and making plays for us,” Haddix said.

Bodner, Boyle’s leading rusher through three games with 158 yards, said he and others who are getting more playing time this season know they have to keep practicing and playing well to keep their spots.

“Everybody’s got a job, and you’ve got to do your job or the next guy’s going to take it because we’ve got a lot of dogs,” he said.

Extra points: Dawson, who started at quarterback for Danville in 2020 before transferring to Boyle last winter, played most of one series at QB in the fourth quarter and completed a 38-yard pass to Austin Bodner. Dawson has played regularly at other positions, and he caught two passes, ran the ball twice and made several tackles Friday.

Boyle kicker Jackson Smith was 6 for 6 on extra-point kicks, but two of his attempts were blocked in the second half. … The Rebels gave up a special teams touchdown when Pulaski’s Cade Sullivan returned the second-half kickoff 90 yards. … Fourteen players caught passes, six for the Rebels and eight for the Maroons. Bodner and Lanter led Boyle with five receptions each for 64 and 42 yards, respectively, and Kelley had four for 67 yards. … Stone was the most frequently used ball-carrier for Boyle with 11 attempts for 36 yards. … Pulaski quarterback Drew Polston was 11 for 15 for 36 yards in the first half, but he left the game just before halftime with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. … Boyle is 11-0 all-time vs. Pulaski.

Week four: Boyle faces its longest road trip of the season this Friday for a game at Henderson County, the second of three Class 6A opponents on the Rebels’ schedule.

Henderson (1-0) has played only once this season, beating Calloway County 31-13 in week one. The Colonels had an open date in week two, and their scheduled game Friday against Christian County was canceled Wednesday due to COVID-19 issues at Christian and they were unable to find another opponent.

“We’ll be going in kind of blind again,” Haddix said.

Henderson went 7-2 in 2020, its season ending with a COVID-related forfeit loss in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.

The Colonels’ offense got 211 of its 289 yards against Calloway on the ground, with Jaheim Williams running for 116 yards and two touchdowns. The defense allowed only 30 rushing yards and 209 yards in all, and Haddix said they are powerful up front.

“They’re really good on the line of scrimmage,” he said.

Henderson’s best-known player is defensive end-left tackle Saadiq Clements, a junior with offers from Kentucky, Louisville and Purdue, among others.

Haddix said he’s sure Henderson will be itching to get back on the field, and he said the Rebels must be ready to handle both the three-hour trip and the quality opponent that will await them.

“They’re going to be prepared for us,” he said. “This is going to be a long trip for us, and we’ve got to come prepared, and we’re going to see the mental makeup of our football team.”

Scoring summary
Pulaski County   7    0     14   8 — 29
Boyle County      7   28    19   6 — 60

First Quarter
Boyle — Avery Bodner 2 run (Jackson Smith kick), 4:12.
Second Quarter
Pulaski — Aiden Wesley 1 run (Logan Corson kick), 10:35.
Boyle — Dalton Stone 1 run (Smith kick), 7:07.
Boyle — Cole Sims 13 interception return (Smith kick), 6:11.
Boyle — Jagger Gillis 29 run (Smith kick), 4:00.
Boyle — Hayden Kelley 18 run (Smith kick), :47.
Third Quarter
Pulaski — Cade Sullivan 90 kickoff return (Corson kick), 11:48.
Boyle — Bodner 13 pass from Gillis (Smith kick), 9:45.
Boyle — Cole Lanter 3 pass from Gillis (pass failed), 8:07.
Pulaski — Chandler Godby 40 pass from Brysen Dugger (Corson kick), 5:38.
Boyle — Lanter 1 pass from Gillis (kick blocked), :24.
Fourth Quarter
Boyle — Stone 1 run (kick blocked), 11:54.
Pulaski — Harris Denmyer 62 pass from Jaylon Wooldridge (Denmyer pass from Wooldridge), :10.