The Indians had the chance to deliver an early knockout.
They just couldn’t land that decisive blow.
And it came back to haunt them.
Madison Central (5-6) took a 13-0 lead less than five minutes into a first-round playoff showdown with Boone County Friday in Richmond. The Rebels survived a rough first quarter and rallied for a 28-21 victory.
Bryson Thompson’s 24-yard touchdown pass from Kameron Schwartz with 13 seconds left in the game turned out to be the game winner.
The Rebels (7-4) advance in the Class 6A Playoffs and will take on Ryle next week.
“You’ve got to give it to them. They’ve got a great program,” Central coach Bert Browne said. “They beat us fair and square. They beat us. They just beat us. They made plays. That’s the bottom line. We’ve got to make plays and we didn’t and we turned the ball over.”
Central had a 21-14 lead at halftime before Boone County tied the game on a 19-yard run by Schwartz with 1:34 left in the third quarter.
The score remained tied until late in the fourth quarter.
Central seemed to be in good position to put together a game-winning drive in the final minutes. The Indians got the ball back with 3:16 left on their own 43-yard line.
But, the drive quickly turned into a disaster.
Two penalties and a pair of sacks left the Indians facing a fourth-and-39 on their own 14-yard line.
“That’s just something that’s growing pains,” Browne said. “It’s a work in progress. We’ve just got to get up in the morning and go back to work and do what we’ve got to do.”
Boone County started its final drive on the Central 35-yard line. It took them six plays to come up with the game-winner.
Thompson came open across the middle and was just able to get into the end zone ahead of a pair of defenders.
That play should have never happened, Browne argued.
“They had 12 in the huddle and one ran off,” the Central coach said. “It’s my understanding that you can’t do that. Bottom line, it was badly called game both ways.”
The Indians hadn’t won a playoff game since 2008, but they were making all the plays in the opening minutes.
It took them just two plays to get into the end zone. After senior Thomas Crump fought off a defender and hauled in a 51-yard pass, quarterback Hunter Stocker scored on a 5-yard run to put Central on top 7-0 only 1:59 into the game.
The Indians forced a turnover on Boone County’s second possession and moments later Stocker hit tight end Hunter Allen on a 62-yard TD pass. That pushed the lead to 13-0 with 6:49 left in the first quarter.
The Rebels fumbled on the ensuing possession, but Central couldn’t take advantage. The Indians got inside the 10-yard line before coming up short on a 4th-and-3.
“We didn’t do what we had to do. We turned the ball over and when they turned it over to us we didn’t do anything about it,” Browne said. “We’ve got to take advantage of that.”
Boone County had four turnovers, only one of which resulted in a Central touchdown. The Indians had two turnovers, both of which led to Boone County TDs.
Boone County responded to Central’s early surge by putting together a 95-play drive that Mikel Reynolds capped with a 39-yard run on the second play of the second quarter. That cut the lead to 13-7.
After a Central turnover, it took the Rebels just two plays to take the lead. Anthony Sanchez caught a 20-yard touchdown from Schwartz with 10:12 left in the second quarter.
Standout running back Dominique Hawkins helped the Indians re-take the lead. The junior got loose on two big gains on back-to-back plays (15 and 11 yards), then later in the drive scored on a 39-yard run. Hawkins also ran in the two-point conversion to put the Indians up 21-14 with 3:47 left before halftime.
The Indians had 225 yards of total offense and eight first downs in the first half. In the second half, they had just three first downs and 10 total yards of offense.
Stocker completed his first four passes for 135 yards and a touchdown. He was six-of-nine for 144 yards and was sacked four times.