BY BOB COX – FOR THE LEBANON REPORTER
LINDEN — Western Boone played spoiler at Sagamore Athletic Conference rival North Montgomery’s homecoming by defeating the Chargers 28-14 on Friday.
The game, which featured two undefeated conference teams, was won in the first half by the Stars. While Western Boone (6-1, 4-0 SAC) could do little wrong, North Montgomery (5-2, 3-1) could do very little right in the first two quarters.
The Stars played nearly a perfect first half. Western Boone had the ball four times and they scored touchdowns on each possession. Meanwhile, the Stars defense kept the high-scoring Chargers scoreless.
Western Boone coach Justin Pelley credited both his offensive and defensive units for the good first half.
“I thought we were just ready to play,” Pelley said. “We didn’t change anything, we were just running our stuff. The defense came out ready to play, they played phenomenal. “
On the other side of the field, Charger Coach Josh Thompson was extremely disappointed with the way his squad played the entire game.
Penalties and poor execution plagued his team for nearly three quarters. Everytime it appeared the Chargers could get something positive going, they shot themselves in the foot in the initial half.
“Our players did not make plays,” Thompson said. “We were not ready to play and I take the blame for that. This one is on me.”
The dominating first half by Western Boone was evidenced by the halftime statistics. The Stars had 225 total yards compared to North Montgomery’s 120. While the Stars were scoring on every possession in the half, the Chargers were floundering. Four times North Montgomery drove into the Stars territory only to be turned away. Three times the Chargers turned the ball over on downs and another drive ended with a Western Boone interception by sophomore Ryan Solomon.
Maybe the biggest defensive play of the night came with just 24 seconds left in the first half. The Stars blocked a punt and recovered the ball on the Charger 26 yard line. Two-plays later, Star senior quarterback Nathaniel Bye completed a scoring strike to senior Zach McMann to finish off the dominating first half. Pelley said the blocked punt made him change his mind on how to play the last few seconds of the first half.
“We were going to take a knee at the end of the half just because we were getting the ball in the second half,” Pelley said. “Then we blocked the punt so we’re right down there and we scored. Just momentum. Momentum had it (last night). We were doing fine. We marched the ball up and down the field and we scored the first three times we had the ball. And then when we blocked the punt, I knew things were just kind of clicking.”
The third quarter was played evenly. The Chargers did get on the board with :35 in the quarter when senior fullback Cole Clore scored his first of two touchdowns.
North Montgomery finished the scoring with just :04 left in the game when senior quarterback Baylee Adams passed to Clore for a five-yard score.
Bye finished the game with with 74 rushing yards and he connected on 12 of 25 passes for 158 yards.
Adams, who was under constant pressure the entire first half, connected on just four passes out of 11 attempts in the first half. Admas recovered in the second half to finish the game by completing 18-out-of 31 attempts for 213 yards.
The victory puts the Stars in the driver’s seat for the SAC championship. Western Boone has struggling Danville and Boone County rival Lebanon yet to play. The Chargers, travel to Frankfort next Friday and will entertain pre-season favorite Tri-West in the season finale and hope the Stars get knocked off.
Pelley said there is a lot of football yet to be played and to not place the championship tag on his team just yet.
“This was a big game, there’s no doubt about it,” Pelley said. “But we still have two games left and funny things can happen down the road. I’ve seen it happen. Our goal is to win this thing outright and to win it outright, you have to win out because if not, you’re going to put it in jeopardy, you’re going to share it or somebody’s going to leapfrog you.
Thompson said his squad will start working today to get back on track.
“We have plenty of things to correct and that will all start on Saturday morning,” Thompson said. “We have to make sure our boys come out ready to play next week and we will go to work on that (Saturday).”
WESTERN BOONE’S RYAN SOLOMON intercepts a North Montgomery pass in the end zone on Friday night.