There wasn’t much suspense in Boyle County’s latest loss, but there was no shortage of drama.
From troubles with tackling and turnover to changes at key positions, it was an eventful Friday night for the Rebels, even if it was also an unsuccessful one.
Boyle lost its second home game in as many weeks, falling 34-14 to John Hardin thanks largely to five turnovers but also to its inability to stop its opponent in the first half.
John Hardin burned Boyle with one big play after another as it built a three-touchdown lead in the first half. The Bulldogs racked up 318 yards in the first and second periods — 46 more than Boyle would manage in the entire game — and 10 of its 33 plays went for 12 yards or more.
The Rebels also continued to be plagued by turnovers, as they gave the ball up five times and now have 16 turnovers in four games, seven more than their opponents.
And when things started going badly for Boyle, which hadn’t lost consecutive games at Rebel Stadium since 2007, coach Larry French started making changes, inserting some young players into the lineup.
“We’ve just got to go back to the drawing board,” French said. “Our young kids stepped up and played well. We made some mistakes with them, but we decided if our older kids are not going to play, then we’ve got to go with young kids and give them an opportunity, and they got an opportunity to showcase what they can do. They’ve got a lot of work to do also, but at least they were giving us some effort out there tonight.”
Boyle (1-3) played John Hardin (4-0) to a scoreless tie in the first quarter but fell behind in the second as the Bulldogs scored four times, including twice as a result of Boyle turnovers. They stretched their lead to 34-7 with an interception return early in the second half en route to their 36th consecutive regular-season victory.
“A turnover is are momentum-changer, and it sure did help us,” John Hardin coach Mark Brown said. “We were lucky enough to win ... but we didn’t play a real good game tonight.”
Meanwhile, the Rebels made some moves. The most visible change was at quarterback, where freshman Josiah Robbins replaced senior Casey Whittle early in the second quarter after Whittle fumbled the ball on the first play following John Hardin’s first score.
Robbins ran the offense for the rest of the night, leading the Rebels in rushing with 95 yards on 12 carries. He also completed six of 18 passes for 67 yards with three interceptions, two of which came on deflected balls.
“We knew he could run the ball. He had some problems early in the season with a dislocated finger and we really never got an opportunity to practice him very much in the preseason, and now he’s starting to come around a little bit,” French said. “He got an opportunity to showcase his talents a little bit tonight, and he’s going to see more and more playing time.”
However, French wouldn’t say whether Robbins or Whittle will start this week against Dixie Heights.
“We’ll just have to wait and see,” he said. “Casey’s still a good kid, and he’s been nursing a little bit of a knee injury, and hopefully he can come back from it and compete a little bit. It’s going to be wide open, that’s for sure.”
There was also a change at running back, where sophomore Aiden Hoskins took over as the primary tailback in the second quarter after Seph Burke, Boyle’s leading rusher through three games, was injured in the second quarter.
“Doc seems to think it might be a broken collar bone, but he’ll get it X-rayed and we’ll see. When you lose your best running back, that hurts and it limits what you can do offensively,” French said.
Hoskins ran the ball eight times for 45 yards, and Clint Hellyer, who made his season debut last week after recovering from a broken collar bone, had five catches for 77 yards.
“Clint has been a big help for us. This is only his second game back. And (Hoskins) ran the ball real effective for us at times,” French said. “We had some positives, but we’ll just have to look at film and go from there and see if we can get this ship righted to keep it from sinking.”
John Hardin established its offense early in the game, using its running game to power drives of 64 and 66 yards on its first two possessions. The Bulldogs spread the workload among five backs, with Wade Holtsclaw leading the way with 73 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Patrick Anderson went 5 for 11 with two touchdown passes and two interceptions.
“We weren’t very physical in the first half. We gave up some big plays,” French said. “They were able to get on the corner pretty effectively, and we still don’t have any outside (line)backers to step up and set the edge. We didn’t do that tonight and they hurt us off tackle, and they hurt us getting behind our corners a couple times, and they used big plays to do it. Several times we had them third-and-long or fourth down and they converted. My hat’s off to them. They’ve got a good football team.”
Robbins scored Boyle’s first touchdown on a 14-yard run midway through the second quarter, pulling the Rebels within 14-7 by capping a five-play, 73-yard drive that also included runs of 25 and 19 yards by Robbins.
But John Hardin answered less than 2 minutes later, following a Hoskins fumble with a 69-yard touchdown pass from Anderson to Dorian Collins. The two hooked up again on a 46-yard scoring play 1 minute before halftime.
Hoskins scored on a 6-yard run two plays into the fourth quarter.
John Hardin 0 28 6 0 — 34
Boyle County 0 7 0 7 — 14
John Hardin — Wade Holtsclaw 1 run (Jacob Drexler kick), 11:55.
John Hardin — Holtsclaw 5 run (Drexler kick), 8:40.
Boyle — Josiah Robbins 14 run (William Harris kick), 6:50.
John Hardin — Dorian Collins 69 pass from Patrick Anderson (Drexler kick), 5:08.
John Hardin — Collins 46 pass from Anderson (Drexler kick), 1:00.
John Hardin — Dimitri Cooper 36 interception return (pass failed), 8:47.
Boyle — Aiden Hoskins 6 run (Harris kick), 11:28.
First downs 13 14
Rushes-yards 39-216 33-164
Passing 149 108
Total Net Yards 365 272
Comp-Att-Int 6-13-2 11-25-3
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-2
Penalties-Yards 8-61 4-24
RUSHING—John Hardin, Wade Holtsclaw 13-73, Jalen Fleming 5-51, Khalil Frazier 6-43, Garrett Ray 7-33, Patrick Anderson 6-16, Elijah Smith 1-1, Josh Miller 1-minus 1. Boyle, Josiah Robbins 12-95, Aiden Hoskins 8-45, Seph Burke 7-18, Lloyd Hall 3-12, William Harris 1-10, Casey Whittle 2-minus 16.
PASSING—John Hardin, Anderson 5-11-2-127, Holtsclaw 1-1-0-22, Fleming 0-1-0-0. Boyle, Robbins 6-18-3-67, Whittle 4-6-0-41, Blake Mason 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING—John Hardin, Dorian Collins 4-122, Marcus Goree 1-22, Fleming 1-5. Boyle, Clint Hellyer 5-77, Hall 5-23, Mason 1-8.