Standing on the 30-yard line, down 28-25 in the fourth quarter and with 6.8 seconds left, Boyd County had a chance.
But Lions coach Ray Brooks could just watch as a Hail Mary miracle turned into just a harmless throw to the ground.
Rowan County was able to overcome two late Boyd County drives to defeat the Lions, 28-25, on Friday night in Morehead.
“They (Boyd County) had chances to lay down and back off but they kept coming and fighting,” said Rowan County coach Kyle Singleton. “I’m proud of our kids for answering it. We overcame some mistakes and some breaks that didn’t go our way, and our kids kept fighting through it.”
One break that went Rowan’s County way was being up by three and forcing Boyd County into a fourth-and-10 with only 2:30 left in the game.
Instead of going for the win, Boyd County went for the tie, which led to Lions kicker Zac Bruner missing a 31-yard field goal.
“There was a lot of thought about going for it,” Brooks said. “But last week at Ashland we made a 41-yard field goal. And Zac is good. He’s a good high school kicker and I had all the confidence he could make it.”
Before the field goal, Dylan Harris scored what would have been the go-ahead touchdown.
But a block in the back negated the run, and added to a hefty penalty statistic of 13 flags costing the Lions 95 yards.
“You can argue that one cost us the game,” Brooks said. “Penalties absolutely killed us. We told the guys, part of learning to win is learning not to make mistakes. And tonight we made some big ones in some crucial times, and it cost us.”
The game saw some big penalties, and some big no-penalties (in some eyes) in the waning moments of the game.
The most questionable to Singleton came when Rowan County tried a fake punt, and a pass went to Chris Baker.
Baker bobbled the ball, then ran into a tackle from Reid Dearfield that sent Baker’s helmet flying.
“I guess I’m clueless to what helmet-to-helmet contact is,” Singleton said. “Apparently I don’t have a clue what that penalty is, so I’m going to get clarification on that.”
Rowan County (4-4) started the game slow as Boyd County went into halftime with a 13-7 lead via two Gaje Ayres TD runs.
Boyd County controlled the football for most of the first half, running 32 plays compared to 14 Rowan County plays.
“(After the game’s opening drive) it was midway through the second quarter before our offense got back out there,” Singleton said. “Offensively we knew we were fine. We just had to get the ball and get back on the field.”
Baker was happy for the Vikings to get back on the field as the senior tailback picked up 160 yards on 16 carries and scored all three of Rowan County’s second-half touchdowns.
Along with Baker, the other Rowan County score came from quarterback Justin Graham, who found receiver Isaac Lee on a 53-yard pass.
The pass came after penalties pushed the Vikings back to a first-and-25 situation.
Boyd County’s passing game stepped up big for the Lions, as quarterback Billy McCoy went 8-for-10 for 116 yards and a touchdown.
His main target was Dylan Harris who finished with seven catches for 114 yards.
With Dearfield (26 carries for 117 yards) and Ayres (11 carries for 70 yards) getting most of the carries this week, Brooks knew they had to get Harris into the game.
“Sometimes he was double-, triple-covered and he just stepped up,” Brooks said. “Dylan is just one of those guys that you just have to give him the ball. To say he’s a big part of our passing game is the understatement of the year.”
Rowan County has locked up a spot in the Class 4A playoffs by gaining its second district win of the season.
“This win is big because it locks us into the playoffs,” Singleton said. “Hopefully we can pull a little magic here and put together a good game and be competitive. Maybe we can get some breaks (against Johnson Central) and end up hosting a game.”
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2658.