WILLIAMSBURG - Boyle County is as ready as it’s going to get.
The Rebels have been building a head of steam on the way to the postseason, and they shoveled more coal into the engine Friday night in a 38-7 victory over Whitley County at Colonel Stadium.
They took control of the game early and kept crippled Whitley from doing much about it as they rolled into the playoffs with their third straight blowout win.
“These last three games we’ve really started to peak, all cylinders clicking,” Boyle quarterback Casey Whittle said. “I think this helps (give us) what we needed going into the playoffs, the momentum we needed.”
The victory also gave Boyle (6-4) its longest winning streak of the season and a winning regular-season record for the fifth consecutive year and the 17th time in the last 19 years.
“Five-and-five and 6-4 are two different things, and we’ll take 6-4 right now with this team,” Boyle coach Larry French said. “They’ve got some momentum going, and hopefully we can go get some games in the playoffs and make a run.”
Whittle threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns, Seph Burke ran for 140 yards and scored two touchdowns and Boyle’s defense held Whitley (6-4) far below its offensive averages.
“It was a good tune-up for the playoffs ... even though we’ve got a long way to go, and we’ve got a hard road, also,” French said.
The Rebels open the Class AAAA playoffs at home this Friday against Clay County (4-6), which has lost five of its last six games, but they could also face district winners Russell County and Lexington Catholic on the road in the regional rounds.
With four starters out with injuries, Whitley was limited in what it could do both on offense and defense, and Boyle took full advantage of that.
The Colonels’ defense went all in against the run, so the Rebels shredded them with the pass. Whittle had open receivers and plenty of time to find them, and he went 12 for 19 with completions to six different receivers, with half of the pass plays going for 20 yards or more.
“The offensive line gave me all day, and whenever they give me time to pass and my receivers run great routes — they were wide open — it’s just as simple as throw and catch,” said Whittle, who has now thrown for more than 1,500 yards this season.
French said the Rebels weren’t as effective on the ground as he’d like, though the ground game did get going in the second half, but he liked the way the passing game looked.
“We didn’t run the ball as effectively as we should’ve, but we were able to throw the ball. They gave us the throw, and we were able to pass the ball quite efficiently,” he said. “We tried to open up our offense, spread them out a little bit where we could run the ball, and the second half we tried to run some clock and were successful doing that.”
Meanwhile, a Whitley offense that had been averaging 30.6 points and 364 yards per game was held to 175 yards and a single touchdown. Starting quarterback Austin Ysidro and second-leading rusher Austin Hopper didn’t play for the Colonels, who had rolled up a school-record 617 yards a week earlier at Letcher County Central.
Only six of their 39 plays went for more than 10 yards, including four runs by fullback Boston Bryant, who rushed for 96 yards.
“They’ve got a big team, and to hold this team to seven points is pretty good, even though they were without their best running back and their quarterback didn’t play, either,” French said.
Boyle scored on its first five possessions and six of eight overall and has scored on 22 of its last 25 possessions over three games.
“There are some things that we could’ve done better in the first half that we started to click on in the second half — it’s Boyle County, there’s always room for improvement — but I think we came out and did what we were supposed to do, took care of business,” Whittle said.
Whittle’s 44-yard, over-the-middle pass to Josiah Robbins on third-and-17 moved the ball to the Whitley 4-yard line and set up a rushing touchdown by Burke just over 2 minutes into the game. Minutes later, he threw to Robbins for 45 yards and hit Lloyd Hall for 13 yards on fourth-and-3 to set up a 5-yard touchdown pass to Blake Mason.
Whitley answered with a 14-play, 80-yard scoring march and pulled within 14-7 on a 3-yard run by Bryant early in the second quarter. The Colonels converted three times on third down during that drive but only twice in the rest of the game.
Boyle came back with another quick score, as Whittle threw a 24-yard strike to Lloyd Hall in the end zone to cap a five-play, 66-yard drive. Late in the first half, the Rebels drove from their own 41-yard line to the Whitley 4 before penalties pushed them back and Will Harris kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired to give them a 24-7 lead.
Their scoring streak continued on their first series of the second half after another fourth-down conversion. Whittle’s 20-yard pass to Levi McKinney on fourth-and-4 pushed them to the Colonels’ 12, and Aidan Stewart-Hoskins scored three plays later on a 1-yard run.
Whitley was in Boyle territory only once more, starting a third-quarter series at the Rebels’ 45 following a 54-yard kickoff return by Zack Mills.
“One of the big things is we didn’t let them control the ball. We got the ball back for our offense, and that’s what you want your defense to do,” French said.
The Rebels tacked on one more score late in the game on a 5-yard run by Burke, then turned their attention to the playoffs and Clay.
“I think we’re ready to go,” Whittle said. “We’ve got good momentum going in, and now we’ve got to get ready for Clay County. They’re a good team, and they’ve got some good players.”
Boyle County 14 10 7 7 — 38
Whitley County 0 7 0 0 — 7
Boyle — Seph Burke 4 run (Will Harris kick), 9:53.
Boyle — Blake Mason 5 pass from Casey Whittle (Harris kick), 2:50.
Whitley — Boston Bryant 3 run (Alex Conlin kick), 8:01.
Boyle — Lloyd Hall 24 pass from Whittle (Harris kick), 5:36.
Boyle — FG Harris 41, :00.
Boyle — Aidan Stewart-Hoskins 1 run (Harris kick), 4:23.
Boyle — Burke 5 run (Harris kick), 3:06.
First downs 18 8
Rushes-yards 37-173 32-107
Passing 263 58
Total Net Yards 436 165
Comp-Att-Int 12-19-0 8-15-3
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 4-2
Penalties-Yards 5-34 3-18
RUSHING—Boyle, Seph Burke 24-140, Josiah Robbins 2-22, Casey Whittle 2-4, Zach McCullum 2-4, Eric Brown 1-2, Aiden Stewart-Hoskins 2-2, Lloyd Hall 3-1, team 1-minus 2. Whitley, Boston Bryant 15-96, Zack Mills 9-36, Tilmom Jackson 5-19, Luke Woods 9-10.
PASSING—Boyle, Whittle 12-19-0-263. Whitley, Woods 1-1-0-14.
RECEIVING—Boyle, Blake Mason 3-35, Josiah Robbins 2-89, Levi McKinney 2-51, Kyle Kephart 2-38, Hall 2-37, Burke 1-13. Whitley, Mills 1-14.