Boyle pushes past Corbin in playoff clash

Published 10:04 am Wednesday, November 22, 2023


Contributing Writer

Boyle County wasn’t going to be pushed around.

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Facing a Corbin team that built its reputation on physical play and a stingy defense, Boyle gave as good as it got in an epic postseason battle between two of the state’s top teams.

The Rebels proved they could be physical, too, making the biggest plays in the biggest moments of a 21-14 win Friday night that propelled them into the Class 4A semifinals.

“We’re pretty good at what we do,” Boyle lineman Austin Gorley said. “Don’t discredit us, don’t say (other) people are physical. We’re in that weight room, we’re working. We’ve got speed, but we’ve also got the power, and we’ve got the gumption to back it up.”

An estimated 5,500 fans packed Rebel Stadium well beyond its capacity for a quarterfinal showdown between the Nos. 1- and 2-ranked teams in Class 4A. They saw top-ranked Boyle (13-0) end Corbin’s season for the second consecutive year and advance to a semifinal this Friday at Franklin County.

“You kind of get a little weak-kneed when you get out here and see it all,” Boyle coach Justin Haddix said. “Just how our kids recovered from that was awesome. These are things you’re going to remember.”

The Rebels scored fewer points than they had in any game this season, but they also scored more points than Corbin had allowed in any game since it lost to Boyle 32-26 in last year’s 4A championship game.

Boyle couldn’t do what it usually does on offense, as Corbin’s defense, which had allowed only 56 points in 12 games, limited the Rebels’ big-play capability and forced them to fight for every yard.

“We believe in our guys that they’re going to get the tough yards and they’re going to do what they do,” Haddix said.

The Rebels averaged almost 7 yards per rushing attempt and had a handful of big gainers, the biggest coming when Montavin Quisenberry broke free on a 60-yard run early in the second half that proved to be the deciding score.

“The linemen came to play today. They just fought their tails off, got blocks for us and we ran the ball as much as we wanted to,” said Quisenberry, who ran for 191 yards and two touchdowns and accounted for 70 percent of Boyle’s total offense. “They were beating their guys one on one and giving us holes to run through.”

Boyle also made big plays on defense throughout the game, pitched a shutout in the second half and turned the Redhounds away in the red zone on their last two possessions.

The last stop came with 2:00 remaining after Corbin (12-1) stopped Boyle at the Redhounds’ 1-yard line, then drove from the 1 to the Boyle 15.

The Redhounds got inside the 10-yard line with a completed pass, but they were pushed back to the 22 when the receiver drew a personal foul for attempting to hurdle a defender – it was the third such penalty against Corbin in the game – and they were stopped on fourth-and-8 when Boyle defenders Brock Driver and Jayce Crowe pressured Cam Estep into a hurried throw on a halfback pass that fell to the turf.

“It was on us to stop them from getting in, and that’s what we did. We rose to the occasion and got it done,” said Bodner, who had a team-high nine tackles.

Boyle needed one first down to seal its win and got it by less than half the length of the ball when Quisenberry ran into the middle of the line on third-and-1.

“They asked me if I could get two and I told them I could,” Quisenberry said.

One of the largest crowds ever at Rebel Stadium saw one of the most anticipated games in the state this season. Hundreds of fans were waiting in line when the gates opened two hours before game time, every seat was filled nearly an hour before kickoff, and fans stood at least three deep along the fence surrounding the field.

Boyle athletic director Travis Leffew said the school sold 5,117 tickets, and thousands more watched the game online.

“It was by far the greatest atmosphere in Kentucky this year, I do believe,” Bodner said. “There were more people when we were warming up than there had been at an entire game all season. It was awesome.”

The Rebels and Redhounds each scored twice in the first half.

Boyle broke the ice after Driver blocked a punt and the Rebels took over at the Corbin 6. Bodner plunged into the end zone three plays later from 1 yard out.

Corbin drove 89 yards in 11 plays to score on a 22-yard run by Zander Curry, and Boyle answered when Quisenberry dragged defender Jacob Smith into the end zone – with an assist from Gorley – as he scored on a 12-yard run.

The Redhounds scored two plays after a Boyle turnover when Carter Stewart caught a 22-yard touchdown pass that tied the game at 14-all midway through the second quarter.

The score remained tied at halftime after interceptions by Boyle’s Demauriah Brown and Corbin’s Curry in the final 1:17 of the first half.

Corbin held the ball for more than 9 minutes after Quisenberry’s tiebreaking touchdown but was stopped on downs at the Boyle 13 late in the third quarter. Boyle then ate up 7½ minutes before it was stopped on downs at the Corbin 1 with 5:24 to play.

Quisenberry carried the ball 15 times and had three of the six plays in which the Rebels netted more than 10 yards. Bodner had 10 carries for 35 yards.

Boyle quarterback Sage Dawson attempted only six passes – none in the second half – and completed four for 29 yards.

Corbin rushed for 214 of its 311 yards and had 32 more yards than Boyle.

Scoring summary

Corbin 7-7-0-0 — 14

Boyle County 7-7-7-0 — 21

First Quarter

Boyle – Avery Bodner 1 run (Andrew Carr kick), 5:59.

Corbin – Zander Curry 22 run (Noah Cima kick), :41.

Second Quarter

Boyle – Montavin Quisenberry 12 run (Carr kick), 8:23.

Corbin – Carter Stewart 22 pass from Kade Elam (Cima kick), 6:09.

Third Quarter

Boyle – Quisenberry 60 run (Carr kick), 10:13.