Boyle blasts North Hardin, 49-6;
Rebels improve to 5-1 on the season

Published 3:45 pm Monday, September 27, 2021

RADCLIFF — Boyle County needed a spark, and the Rebels knew it. And in just 14 seconds, the entire sideline was lit.

A special teams touchdown and a defensive touchdown just two plays apart in the third quarter gave Boyle all the momentum it would need to finish off North Hardin in a 49-6 victory Friday night at Ray Story Stadium.

The Rebels had that momentum in the early going, but a fire that had burned white-hot early in the first quarter was down to embers by halftime.

The Boyle coaches turned up the heat in the locker room, and the players responded in the third quarter to give the Rebels a strong finish in their final game before district play.

Their lead nearly doubled in little more than a blink of an eye as Tommy Ziesmer blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown and Cole Sims forced a fumble that Daulton Peetz recovered for a score as the Rebels nearly doubled their lead.

“It gets your team going, it pumps everybody up,” Peetz said. “You could see it on the offense. We kept scoring, kept working harder.”

That was what Boyle coach Justin Haddix had wanted all along. Boyle (5-1) scored on its first two series but got only one more touchdown in the first half, and North Hardin (1-5) seized the momentum just before halftime with Micah Parmes’ 96-yard kickoff return.

“Momentum in sports, and especially in high school sports, is huge. And they had the momentum going in,” Haddix said. “(The third quarter touchdowns) kind of got us going, and we’ve got to do that all the time.”

The enthusiasm level on the Boyle sideline went from 10 after Ziesmer’s touchdown to 11 after Peetz’s score.

“You want to see them excited,” Haddix said. “I’m just happy to see them having fun and playing football, and that’s what I challenged them to do (at halftime). Playing football the right way is fun. Playing what we were doing in the first half, it’s not very fun. It’s not fun to watch, it’s not fun to coach and it’s not fun to play. We had fun in the second half and just played the way we needed to play.”

Boyle went on to score four times in 9:15 to complete its third running-clock win over the three Class 6A teams on its schedule. Haddix said this was another step forward in preparing for the three-game district schedule, which begins with an Oct. 8 game against rival Lexington Catholic.

“Things weren’t going good and we responded the way we want to respond,” he said.

With 7:19 left in the third quarter, Ziesmer blocked a punt and returned it 37 yards for his second touchdown in three weeks and Boyle’s first special teams TD of the season.

On the first play after the ensuing kickoff, Sims sacked North Hardin quarterback Manie Wimberly at the 2-yard line and forced a fumble that Peetz jumped on in the end zone for the Rebels’ fourth defensive touchdown this year.

“I was crossing the center, Cole made a good tackle, he stripped the ball perfectly and I just got on the ball. It was real easy for me,” Peetz said.

The Boyle defense sacked Wimberly three times and pressured him throughout the game, holding him to 59 yards passing.

“We knew he doesn’t like to scramble, and we really wanted to get some pressure on him,” Peetz said.

The Rebels’ defense had six tackles for loss, and they held the Trojans’ offense to 80 yards.

“Our front guys did a great job of getting pressure on (Wimberly) where we didn’t have to blitz a lot, and our secondary made some plays,” Haddix said.

Cole Lanter caught four of Jagger Gillis’ 10 completed passes for 145 yards. He had a 45-yard catch-and-run TD in the first quarter, a leaping catch in the end zone for a 34-yard TD in the second quarter, and a turnaround leap over a defender for a 49-yard gain that set up a TD in the third quarter.

Gillis threw for 196 yards and Boyle rushed for 189 yards as it outgained North Hardin 394 yards to 80.

Gillis, Dalton Stone and Sage Dawson each had a rushing touchdown for the Rebels. Stone was the leading rusher with 65 yards on eight carries.

Boyle led 14-0 midway through the first quarter but didn’t score again until the 1:15 mark of the second period.

“We had a couple good drives and then we just kind of relaxed,” Haddix said. “You’ve got to really hammer down when you get up on people to finish them off, and we didn’t do a good job of that in the first half.”

Right at home: Dawson scored his first touchdown as a Rebel on a 22-yard run in the fourth quarter, and he said it was a significant score for him.

“It just felt like I was officially a part of the Rebels,” Dawson said.

Not that he wasn’t already a big part of Boyle’s success. Dawson, who started at quarterback for Danville in 2020 before transferring to Boyle last winter, has had a significant role with the Rebels since spring practice.

He said he felt at ease in his new surroundings right from the start.

“It was real smooth. Everybody welcomed me as soon as I got here,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been here my whole life.”

The only thing he isn’t doing is playing the primary position he held at Danville. Most of his playing time has come at cornerback, but he doesn’t mind that.

“Most people thought I was coming over here for offense, quarterback. And then I fell in love with corner,” he said.

Dawson has played quarterback only in relief this season, but he ranks among Boyle’s top five tacklers, and he also has been used as a rusher and receiver. He has a combined 116 rushing and receiving yards and has thrown for 49 yards.

“Sage played a great game against Bowling Green on defense,” Haddix said. “And we’re looking forward to more plays out of him (on offense). It’s going to make us more dangerous on offense.”

Dawson, who threw for 16 touchdowns and rushed for six in two seasons at Danville, is repeating his sophomore year as allowed by Senate Bill 128,

He attended college camps with Gillis and other players this summer, and he said that also helped him bond with his new teammates.

“He’s fit in great with us,” Haddix said. “He’s a Boyle County Rebel and he loves it, and we love having him.”

Dawson said that was evident almost as soon as he walked through the door for the first time.

“Everybody’s welcomed me, and I feel like I’ve been here my whole life,” he said.

Extra points: Boyle has beaten the three Class 6A teams on its schedule — North Hardin, Henderson County and Tates Creek — by a combined score of 128-26. … Jackson Smith became the seventh different Boyle player to intercept a pass this season. His pick on the final play of the third quarter set up Dawson’s touchdown. … Gillis was 10 for 16.

He has completed 66 percent of his passes this season with 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

Week seven: Boyle has a bye week to prepare for its District 4A-5 opener against Lexington Catholic on Oct. 8, and that’s just the way Haddix likes it.

“That’s the way you set your schedule up,” he said. “Lexington Catholic, obviously, is a big-time rivalry for us, and they do the same thing. You’re getting prepared for that big district showdown. The winner has been probably the champion or the runner-up for the last several years.”

Like Boyle, Lexington Catholic (5-1) has beaten three Class 6A schools: Ryle, Pleasure Ridge Park and most recently Tates Creek. The Knights’ only loss was a 43-7 defeat to Lexington Chrstian, the same team that handed Boyle its only loss, 35-28.

Lexington Catholic’s offense is once again led by Jack Gohmann, a senior quarterback who has thrown for 1,143 yards and 13 touchdowns. Three receivers have caught at least 16 passes each, led by Blake Busson with 24 receptions and Jack Monday with 23.

But the Knights are more balanced, averaging 194 passing yards and 179 rushing yards per game. Walker Hall leads the ground game with 603 yards and four touchdowns.

Monday, a linebacker, leads the defense in both tackles and tackles for loss.

Boyle scored 89 points in two wins over the Knights last season, winning 40-0 in the regular season and 49-41 in the postseason. The Rebels have won seven straight games in the series over the last four seasons, and they lead the series 19-13 overall and 12-9 in regular-season games.

Haddix said Boyle will be trying to continue to improve in the two weeks of practice leading to the game at Rebel Stadium.

“As a coach you’re never as good as you need to be. There’s always room to improve, and we’ve got a lot of room to improve,” he said. “We’re going to have a big-time battle with Lexington Catholic. They’ve beaten some really good teams … and it’s going to be a big-time atmosphere at our place.”

Scoring summary
Boyle County 14 7 21 7 — 49
North Hardin 0 6 0 0 — 6

First Quarter
Boyle — Jagger Gillis 3 run (Jackson Smith kick), 8:31.
Boyle — Cole Lanter 45 pass from Gillis (Smith kick), 5:44.

Second Quarter
Boyle — C. Lanter 34 pass from Gillis (Smith kick), 1:15.
North Hardin — Micah Parmes 96 kickoff return (kick blocked), :58

Third Quarter
Boyle — Tommy Ziesmer 37 blocked punt return (Smith kick), 7:19.
Boyle — Daulton Peetz fumble recovery in end zone (Smith kick), 7:05.
Boyle — Avery Bodner 6 run (Smith kick), 3:31.

Fourth Quarter
Boyle — Sage Dawson 22 run (Smith kick), 10:04.