As expected, the playoff-bound Boyd Yellowjackets (4-5, 4-1) put away the Paradise Panthers (1-8, 1-4) in the Battle of 114 Friday night.
Although the score ended up 49-31, it didn’t exactly go the way Boyd scripted it.
Boyd running back Fino Cardona rushed for 290 yards on a couple dozen carries – but on the ‘Jackets’ first series he had 99 yards of rushing called back because of penalties.
After a scoreless first quarter, Cardona plowed in from two yards out to put Boyd on the board on senior night at Yellowjacket Stadium. But a bobbled snap on the extra-point attempt forced kicker Nathan Thomas to scramble, then try a pass for the two-point conversion.
It backfired, as Paradise’s Chris Hill intercepted a wobbly ball at the goalline, broke out of the pack and sprinted 100 yards to give his team the two points.
Boyd came right back, as Paradise let the kickoff bounce and Quaylynn Wells pounced on it at the 35. After a couple of runs by Cardona gave the ‘Jackets a first down at the Panther 25, Wells and quarterback Clay Barnett connected sophomore-to-sophomore, and Wells scampered 25 yards for another Boyd touchdown.
On a nifty reverse, Wells ran the two-point conversion in and it was 14-2.
But the Panthers wouldn’t lie down. Quarterback Dillon Meadows, who spread 18 receptions among a half-dozen receivers while amassing nearly 200 yards in the air, drove his team down the field.
After a facemask penalty nullified a Boyd fumble recovery and gave Paradise the ball at the Boyd 11, the Panthers appeared likely to stall with two no-gainers, an incomplete pass that was almost intercepted, and a holding penalty.
That’s when Meadows connected with his featured back, Tanner Valentine, for a 21-yard touchdown pass. The extra-point kick was blocked to make it 14-8.
The ‘Jackets didn’t wait long to answer. Cardona burst through the line on the first play from scrimmage and went 78 yards for a touchdown – this time with no yellow flags to litter the field behind him.
It took 14 seconds only because he was breaking a few tackles at the line of scrimmage.
Thomas’ kick made it 21-8 and that’s where it stood at halftime.
But Paradise came out with an onside kick and a personal foul penalty on the ‘Jackets, and suddenly they were in business at the Boyd 24. It took Valentine three carries to get to the end zone and make it a 21-15 game.
Again Boyd answered, this time with three straight touchdowns on a 1-yard run by Cardona, a 24-yard burst by Wells and a 37-yard Barnett-to-Joseph Tate pass. It was 42-15 going into the final period.
Paradise kept battling. Meadows hit Valentine on a 16-yard pass on fourth-and-eight to keep a drive alive, and the Panthers scored when Cody Blackstock latched onto a two-yard strike with just under six minutes to play.
Another 14-second drive consisted of Wells returning the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for his third touchdown of the night.
Meadors added a final touchdown with just over three minutes left.
Boyd coach Brandon Hopkins heaved a sigh of relief when the marathon game finally ended.
“We had some momentum at halftime, going into the second half,” he said. “Then they kicked that little pooch and we didn’t recover it, then all of a sudden it’s 21-15 and they got the ball back and it got interesting.
“But we finally took care of business.”
Hopkins conceded that his defense got tired in part because the offense scored so quickly a few times.
“They put up 31, but I thought our defense played well,” he said. “We had a lot of subs in there.”
Boyd has a chance to share in the district 5-2A championship if they can handle Whitesboro on the road next Friday.
“Right now we’re sitting third with a chance to win or share a district championship if we beat Whitesboro,” Hopkins said. “It’s wide open.”
BOYD 49, PARADISE 31
Paradise … 0 … 8 … 7 … … 16 … – … 31
Boyd … 0 … 21 … 21 … … 7 … – … 49
Boyd 10:59 – Fino Cardona 2 run; pass failed
Paradise 10:59 – Chris Hill 100 return of 2-pt. conversion attempt (2 points)
Boyd 9:40 – Quaylynn Wells 25 pass from Clay Barnett; Wells run
Paradise 6:06 – Tanner Valentine 21 pass from Dillon Meadows; kick blocked
Boyd 5:58 – Cardona 78 run; kick Nathan Thomas
Paradise 10:46 – Valentine 12 run; kick Jarrett Holt
Boyd 6:20 – Cardona 1 run; Thomas kick
Boyd 5:48 – Wells 24 run; Thomas kick
Boyd 4:36 – Joseph Tate 37 pass from Barnett, Thomas kick
Paradise 5:52 – Cody Blackstock 5 pass from Meadows; pass Meadows to Skyler Black
Boyd 5:38 – Wells 80 kickoff return; Thomas kick
Paradise 3:06 – Meadows 1 run; pass Meadows to Blackstock
PARADISE … BOYD
First Downs … 14 … 19
Rushes-Yards … 28-80 … 34-310
Passing Yards … 199 … 190
Total Yards … 279 … 500
Comp-Att-Int … 18-28-0 … 9-12-0
Punts-Avg. … 7-33 … 4-40
Fumbles-lost … 0-0 … 1-1
Penalties … 8-36 … 9-95
Rushing – Paradise, Valentine, 17-48; Boyd, Cardona 24-290
Receiving – Paradise, Valentine, 6-93; Boyd, Dalton Stidham, 2-38
Passing – Paradise, Meadows, 18-28-0, 199 yds.; Boyd, Barnett 9-11-0, 190 yds.