The Boyd County defense limited Tolsia’s offense to 192 total yards on 47 plays, roughly four yards per play on average.
Unfortunately for the Lions, the Rebels found it much easier to pick up yards against Boyd County’s offense. On a pair of turnovers, Tolsia racked up 150 return yards — good for a healthy average of 75 yards per play.
The two long returns helped the Rebels spoil the Lions’ Senior Night festivities, 21-16, on Friday night at Tom Scott Field.
Tolsia’s (6-3) first defensive touchdown of the night was courtesy of Luke Presley. Presley picked off Billy McCoy at the Tolsia 15-yard line before returning it 85 yards for the score.
Presley’s touchdown with 8:09 remaining in the second quarter came directly on the heels of the Rebels’ only offensive touchdown of the night, a Wes Waller six-yard scamper with 9:25 on the first-half clock.
Brandon Ward supplied the Rebels’ other score on a 65-yard fumble recovery, a mere 20 seconds into the start of the second half.
“We just did not execute well,” Boyd County coach John Gilliam said. “When you are not executing well, you better secure the football and not give up cheap scores. We didn’t do that and gave them a couple of cheap ones.”
In all, the Lions offense coughed the ball up three times, putting pressure on the defense to keep them within striking distance. For much of the night the Lion defenders responded.
Boyd County’s (1-9) defense turned away the Rebels on four straight plays inside the 5-yard line late in the fourth quarter to keep the Lions within one score.
“Defensively, I am proud of the way we played,” Gilliam said. “I am proud of the way all of our kids played, but we just did not make enough plays offensively.”
The Lions had two possessions inside the final four minutes of action to try and punch in the winning score. The first drive stalled out at the Tolsia 35-yard line, while the second only made it to the Rebel 49.
While unable to severly threaten the end zone at the end of the second half, Boyd County nearly did score a touchdown in the final seconds of the first half.
With one tick left on the clock, McCoy connected with Drew Wilks for a 22-yard strike than ended up just a foot short of the goal line.
“That was a big one, but he was short,” Gilliam said. “From the sideline, I just waved our kids to the locker room. It was a great attempt, just didn’t turn out for us.”
Jason Smith, one of 14 seniors honored before the game, accounted for both Lion scores, each four-yard runs.
Smith led all rushers with 122 yards on 20 carries. He also caught two passes for 25 yards and picked off a pass.
“He ran the ball well, and the interception he had was amazing,” Gilliam said. “It was a one-handed grab. When he snagged it, I was like ‘whoa.’ I had to go down and shake his hand on that one.”
The seniors, some of whom have played for three different head coaches, could not have handled the situation and season any better, according to Gilliam.
“The way our kids come to practice every day is a tribute to our seniors, because when your seniors are not leading it can become a bad situation, especially when you have not been winning.”
The Boyd County seniors will have at least one more game to play for Gilliam as they travel to play Highlands next Friday night in the opening round of the playoffs.