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Unbeaten Boyle County tops Franklin County in overtime to capture Class 4A state championship


By Chad Hensley
KyForward sports reporter

An incredible defensive effort on a fourth-down play in overtime denied Franklin County’s bid for the Class 4A state championship.

Boyle County capped on undefeated season with a 31-28 overtime victory over upset-minded Franklin County in the Class 4A state championship contest at Kroger Field in Lexington on Friday night.

Franklin County had a chance to win its first state title in program history, but Nick Broyles’ pass that was intended for Kaden Moorman was knocked away by a fantastic defensive play by Boyle County’s Luke Sheperson on fourth down in overtime.

“That was a heavyweight title fight,” said Franklin County head coach Eddie James. “If you look back that game had so many big plays and big moments from both teams. Each side played relentlessly, and I am so very proud of our kids. Hats off to Coach (Justin) Haddix and Coach (Jeff) Hester for their plan and win. It was (a) well-earned (victory).”

Franklin County’s Fred Farrier Jr. (left), Eddie James (center) and Nick Broyles (right) pose for photos after defeating Johnson Central in the Class 4A state semifinals. The Flyers finished as state runners-up. (Photo by Hannah Wynn)

Boyle County completed the season with an 11-0 record, while Franklin County finished 9-2.

Both teams traded touchdowns in the back-and-forth affair that could have ended on a Boyle County field goal at the end of regulation, but Franklin County’s Blair Tate blocked Jackson Smith’s 44-yard attempt as time expired.

Jackson would get redemption in overtime when he drilled a 23-yarder to give the Rebels a 31-28 lead.

Franklin County’s possession in overtime got off to an inauspicious start with a 5-yard loss on a busted play.

Two plays later, Broyles connected with Fred Farrier on pass that got the Flyers (9-2) down to the 4-yard line before Sheperson’s heroics won the ninth state title for the Rebels.

“The final play was never a question for us,” James said of the decision to go for the win instead of a field goal to force a second overtime. “Once we held them to a field goal, we knew if we got inside the five, we’d go for the win. Kicking on college uprights and from a hash is difficult and our kid just hadn’t had enough practice at it for us to be comfortable. The play call was perfect and executed well. Luke Sheperson just made a phenomenal play and gave them the win.”

Franklin County got the scoring started on its first possession of the game. The 10-play scoring drive covered 68 yards and was capped by Moorman’s 5-yard run.

The score remained 7-0 in favor of Franklin County until early in the second quarter, when Boyle County’s Will McDaniel powered his way in from 4-yards out.

Both teams traded touchdowns on each of their next possessions, with Peyton Ledford scoring for Franklin County and McDaniel notching his second TD of the quarter.

McDaniel finished 195 yards on 32 carries and two touchdowns to earn the Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl Class 4A Player of the Game. McDaniel was also named the Kentucky Football Coaches Association Player of the Year earlier in the week.

Franklin County’s defense held the Rebels on fourth down early in the third quarter. Broyles later hit Zach Claudio for a 19-yard touchdown on the following possession as the Flyers regained the lead.

Claudio was Broyles’ top target after Boyle County played lockdown defense on Farrier throughout the contest.

“Zach is an elite player,” James said of the junior wide receiver who finished with six catches for 79 yards and one touchdown. “He works very hard and is one of our unsung leaders. He stepped up big tonight and made some huge plays for us down the stretch.”

Franklin County’s Kaden Moorman rushed for more than 600 yards this season. (Photo by Hannah Wynn)

Farrier ended with four catches for 33 yards to eclipse the 1,000-yard receiving mark in his senior season. Farrier also finished his career with exactly 2,900 receiving yards on 187 catches and 34 touchdowns.

Boyle County quarterback Jagger Gillis kept his team in the game with timely pass completions as well as with his running ability. Gillis scored from 4-yards out early in the fourth quarter to cap a 10-play, 89-yard drive to tie the game at 21-21.

The Rebels looked to take their first lead of the night on their next possession, but Gillis was stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line by Phillip Peiffer.

Franklin County’s offense fed off the momentum built by the defense and drove to the Boyle County 6-yard line in four plays — all spearheaded by Broyles.

Broyles rushed for a 36-yard gain on the first play of the drive before connecting with Claudio for 25 yards, Braedyn Tracy for 20 yards and Moorman for 12 yards. Moorman capped the impressive drive with a 6-yard score midway through the fourth quarter for his team’s final points of the night.

The punch-counterpunch action continued with Boyle County’s next possession that culminated in a Gillis to Coleman Clark 59-yard touchdown pass to tie the game. The nerve-wrenching finish culminated with Jackson not only making up for the blocked field goal at the end of regulation, but also for failing to convert the game-tying extra point in Boyle County’s 21-20 loss in the 2019 Class 4A title game loss to Johnson Central.

Broyles finished his career at Franklin County with 9,851 yards of total offense, including 7,584 yards through the air. It wasn’t until late in the fourth quarter before he threw his first interception of the season.

“Nick went down swinging tonight,” said James of Broyles, who tallied 109 combined touchdowns during the last three seasons. “He made several plays that extended drives and gave us a chance to win it at the end. He’s had an amazing career and will go down as one of the all-time Flyers greats.”

Boyle County ended the night with 457 yards of offense to Franklin County’s 313, but the defense of Franklin County did just enough to keep itself in the game.

Ledford led both team with 11 total tackles and was followed by Tate with eight tackles and two tackles for loss. Peiffer and Brenton Sears collected 7.5 tackles each.

“Statistically speaking, we gave up some yards, but our defense played very well,” said James. “They held a great football team to 28 and gave us a chance to win. Boyle is tough to defend and our guys stepped up and played well enough to win.”

According to James, the Franklin County program, which was playing in its first state title game in school history, is in great hands going forward thanks to the play and leadership of his team’s eight seniors (Broyles, Farrier, Peiffer, Henry Nsiah, Owen Powell, Kendall Roederer, Jordan Ross and Bryce Tucker) who played their final game on Friday.

“Those kids are so special,” James said. “They have given us everything over the last 4 years. They’ve allowed me to instill the culture and values I want into Flyer football. They will be sorely missed, but they will always be special to me as they were my first class at FCHS. They are great young men who will go on and be special throughout their lives.”

Look for Franklin County to be a juggernaut in the Class 4A ranks for years to come with the returning players on this season’s team as well as the incoming freshman class for the 2021 season from Elkhorn Middle School — which won the Kentucky Middle School Football Association Division 1 crown this fall over Bowling Green Middle School.

“This is another building block for us,” James added. “We had an amazing run but came up short. Our underclassmen were hurt, but you could see the fire in their eyes. They are not satisfied. And they all know me well enough to know that very soon, we will put our heads down and go back to work so we can start building to get back to Lexington in 2021.”


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