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Class 4A: Boyle County beats Franklin County 31-28 in overtime thriller for 9th state title

KHSAA Class 4A Football Final Boyle County v. Franklin County

KHSAA Class 4A Football Final Boyle County v. Franklin County

It was going to take a classic game in the Class 4A Finals to upstage the blocked PAT that won Beechwood the Class 2A Finals over Lexington Christian Academy on Saturday, and that’s exactly what we got.

In an overtime thriller, Boyle County (11-0) stopped Franklin County (9-2) on a 4th down pass play in extra time to seal a 31-28 win in the KHSAA Class 4A State Title game at Kroger Field. Boyle County senior Luke Sheperson came up with the game-winning pass deflection on the final play of the night to give the Rebels their ninth State Championship and the first for head coach Justin Haddix.

It was a Friday Night Lights classic during a cold evening in Lexington, as both teams were trading blows throughout the affair before needing an overtime period to decide the winner.

Franklin County, who came into the game as a heavy underdog, opened up the scoring in the first quarter thanks to a five-yard run from sophomore running back Kaden Moorman. Boyle County failed to put up any points on their first possession, punting the ball away before finding their offensive groove the next time out.

A 4th down conversion near midfield for Boyle County eventually led to an incredible 50-yard touchdown run from Sheperson, who rose up and over two Franklin County defenders for an incredible highlight catch. However, a holding penalty on Boyle County would take the points off the board. A block in the back penalty on the ensuing play would push the Rebels back even further and they were ultimately forced to punt.

The Boyle County punt was mishandled by Franklin County star, senior wide receiver Fred Farrier, who bobbled the return and was downed at his team’s own one-yard line. The three-star prospect, who led all Class 4A players in receiving yards this season, had already dropped a pass earlier in the game, as well.

Starting right outside their own endzone, Franklin County was forced into a three-and-out. A poor punt from the Flyers gave Boyle County excellent field position at the Franklin County 34-yard line.

With a short field to deal with, Boyle County picked up another 4th down conversion right before the end of the first quarter and a scoring opportunity on the way. Senior running back Will McDaniel eventually punched in the first score for Boyle County on a 1st and goal play, tying the game up at 7-7. But Franklin County didn’t waste any time regaining the lead.

Moorman immediately rattled off a 20-yard run for the Flyers, who would pick up two more first downs on explosive plays. The offense was in a perfect rhythm, moving the ball all the way down to the Boyle County five-yard line, earning a fresh set of downs. Sophomore FB/LB Peyton Ledford, who was dominant on the defensive end of the field all night long, came in to provide a big body on the frontline, slamming into the endzone on a 4th and short at the goal line. Franklin County took control of the lead, going up 14-7 halfway through the quarter.

But Boyle County struck back, bursting out a 15-yard run, followed by a first down scramble from quarterback Jagger Gillis then another huge run from McDaniel. In just a few plays, the Rebels were inside the redzone and knocking on the door for another touchdown. McDaniel would punch it in for his 21st score of the 2020 season, also knotting things back up, this time at 14-14.

Franklin County’s next possession did not go according to plan, as they were quickly put into a 3rd and long situation and eventually forced to punt. Despite a holding penalty on the punt return, Boyle County had the ball back in a decent position with all three timeouts remaining and two minutes before the half. The Rebels moved the offense down to the Franklin County 30-yard line, but needed just a few more seconds to add another score.

Gillis scrambled down to the two-yard line on the final play before the intermission as time just ran out.

Heading into halftime, the score was still tied at 14.

The opening possession out of the half for Franklin County didn’t create much, ending in a punt, however, Boyle County could not take advantage, eventually turning the ball over on downs near midfield on their opening second-half possession. Franklin County would take over once again with 6:36 left in the third quarter.

The Flyers quickly marched down the reduced field, picking up a 3rd and long before later converting a 4th and short that led to a touchdown catch from Nick Broyles to Zach Claudio, putting Franklin County back on top, 21-14.

Facing adversity, Boyle County went to its bell cow in Will McDaniel, who had been trotting over the Flyers defense all night long.

McDaniel crossed the 100-yard rushing threshold during the next Boyle County drive, busting out big run after big run that would take the game into the fourth and final quarter. Franklin County’s defense did its best to create a stop, as Boyle County faced a 4th and short inside of the 10-yard line, but an undisciplined penalty from the defense gave Boyle County a new set of downs with only a few yards to go. Gillis would easily walk into the endzone to once again tie the game up, now at 21-21.

The next possession for Franklin County got off to a great start, as Boyle County sailed the kickoff out of bounds, setting up the Flyers with decent field position off the penalty. But another dropped pass from Farrier was followed up by a pass deflection from the Rebels’ defense. Franklin County would punt again, giving Boyle County the ball back with slightly under 10 minutes left in the game.

Trying to work the clock, Boyle County continued to feed McDaniel, who was recently named the Class 4A District 5 Player of the Year, on nearly every play as the star running back punished the stout Franklin County defense. But that same defense came up big when they needed to the most, stopping McDaniel and Boyle County at the goal line to force a turnover on downs.

Taking over at the one-yard line and 99 yards to go for a score, the Franklin County offense went to work. After avoiding several defenders in his own endzone, quarterback Nick Broyles skirted ahead for a massive 35-yard gain that could have just as easily resulted in a safety. The offense for Franklin County kept on rolling, even forcing Boyle County to call a timeout just to slow down the tempo. An easy dump-off pass to Moorman from Boyles put them in scoring position inside the 10-yard line before Moorman would finish off the drive with a touchdown run, completing the 99-yard drive and giving the Flyers a 28-21 lead with just 5:44 left on the clock.

But within the next two minutes of game-time, Boyle County responded in the form of chunk plays. McDaniel picked up a big 3rd down run before senior wide receiver Coleman Clark broke loose on a wheel route, escaping a couple of tackles along the way for a 50-plus yard touchdown catch from Gillis. Just like that, the game was tied for the fourth time, 28-28.

Trying to counter, Broyles danced for a beautiful 1st down run on the ensuing possession for Franklin County, but threw his first interception in 201 pass attempts on the next play, giving Boyle County great position with a short field and time running low. Starting the possession with slightly over three minutes to go, the Rebels worked the offense down the field and eventually into field goal territory, but some timely stops from Franklin County forced Boyle County into a 49-yard FG attempt with under 30 seconds left.

In what was the biggest moment of the game thus far, with a potential game-winning kick on the way, Franklin County stood tough, blocking the attempt and forcing the overtime period.

Boyle County received the ball first to start the extra frame, starting at the opposing 10-yard line, in accordance with KHSAA overtime rules. To no one’s surprise, they continued to feed McDaniel, but to the surprise of the limited crowd, he was stuffed on two consecutive rushes. Boyle County brought out a trick-play to try and wiggle into the endzone on 3rd down, but was once again stopped short and settled for a field goal, taking a narrow 31-28 lead.

All Boyle County needed to do now was earn one stop. If Franklin County found the endzone, the game would be over.

A costly miscommunication on the opening play, resulting in an illegal shift on the offense that was declined, pushed Franklin County back five yards and into a bad 2nd down scenario. Broyles nearly tossed an interception on the very next play, but the ball luckily fell innocently to the turf. On 3rd and 15 with opportunities dwindling, Farrier caught an insane pass that appeared to bounce off the ground, but it was ultimately ruled a catch. And since there are no reviews in high school football, Franklin County had the ball at the four-yard line with a critical 4th down coming up.

In what would be the final play of the Saturday State Finals, Broyles ran right out of the shotgun, spotted his man in the endzone, and lobbed a pass to an uncovered receiver. But Luke Sheperson saved the day, swatting down the pass and securing the 31-28 win for Boyle County’s ninth State Championship.

McDaniel finished his high school career with 195 yards and two touchdowns for Boyle County. Rebels quarterback Jagger Gillis threw for 168 yards on 11-17 passing with one touchdown while adding 85 rushing yards and another score with his feet. Boyle County’s 31 points were actually a season-low and they did not record a single sack after leading Class 4A with 36 of them prior to Saturday’s outing.

Franklin County’s Broyles tossed for 195 yards, completing 19 of his 28 passes, including one touchdown and one pick. Four different Flyers wide receivers caught at least three passes, led by Claudio’s six catches, 79 yards, and one touchdown. Ledford was the leader in tackles on either side, racking up 12 of them, 10 of which were solos.

Check out the full box score below, along with bonus photos from KSR’s Brendon Miller:


KHSAA Class 4A Football Final Boyle County v. Franklin County

KHSAA Class 4A Football Final Boyle County v. Franklin County

KHSAA Class 4A Football Final Boyle County v. Franklin County

KHSAA Class 4A Football Final Boyle County v. Franklin County

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Recruiting reporter for KSR. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR

1 Comment for Class 4A: Boyle County beats Franklin County 31-28 in overtime thriller for 9th state title

  1. DaaaaCats
    6:58 am December 19, 2020 Permalink

    Man, that last play hurt as an FCHS alum. So proud of those guys though