By Matt Nestor
For the third straight year, a large crowd gathered for the last regular-season game to see if a team could end Boylan’s winning streak and pry the conference title from their hands at the same time.
The Titans, just like the two previous years, were once again up to the task, overcoming an early turnover to cruise and crush the Hononegah Indians 49-7 to finish the season undefeated and win the NIC-10 championship.
“It feels really good,” senior Chris Miller said after the Titans’ victory. “I didn’t know the outcome was going to be like that. We practiced really hard. I’m thankful for my teammates, and we’re happy.”
Things started off rough for the Titans. After the opening kickoff, Boylan drove down inside the Indians’ 10-yard line and seemed poised to score. But a fumble by Miller on fourth-and-1 ended that drive.
To complicate matters, Bryan Rothmaler and the Hononegah offense came out hot against the top defense in the conference. Rothmaler ran for 61 yards on five carries in the first drive and set the Indians up inside the Boylan 10.
But the Titans’ defense rose up and caused a fumble of their own, which they recovered.
Boylan scored quickly when Lamont Toney threw a pass in the flat to Aaron Einhorn for an 18-yard touchdown. That was set up by a 52-yard run for Toney, who ran for 64 yards total and threw for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
“I think he played extremely well tonight,” Boylan running back Tyries Thomas said. “I knew he had it in him. He hasn’t shown it too much this season, but he was able to calm down and play his game, and he did great.”
Miller made up for his fumble with a touchdown on the next drive. The senior star also intercepted quarterback Chase Robinson later in the game, one of two interceptions by Robinson.
Thomas also did his part for Boylan, scoring on runs of 55 yards and 68 yards on his way to 194 rushing yards to lead the way for Boylan.
“(Toney) put the ball right on the money and right where it needed to be,” Hononegah linebacker Skylar Purifoy said. “They out-blocked us. I don’t know exactly what they did, but they had obviously watched a lot of tape on us and they had our number.”
As explosive as the Boylan offense was, the story of the night was the Titans’ defense.
Hononegah, and more specifically Robinson, entered the game on a complete roll. The Indians had averaged more than 45 points per game in their last three games, and Robinson was racking up yards.
The Titans came in expecting to be able to stop the Hononegah run game and knew slowing down the senior quarterback would be a key to the game.
“We had to stop the pass,” Miller said. “We knew they were going to have to come out and pass if they wanted to beat us, and we had to stop that. I think that is what the key was.”
Boylan coach Dan Appino was certainly happy with his team’s performance as they enter the playoffs. The Titans had not faced one of the top conference teams since opening against Harlem, Guilford and Freeport. So, to handle a team like that came as a great surprise.
“Shocking, really, it was a terrific feeling to see our kids play that well for four quarters,” he said. “(The defense) did a great job of stuffing the run; they were very timely in their pass defense. The coaching staff did a great job of getting those guys ready to play.”
In other NIC-10 action:
→ Guilford (6-3) got 148 rushing yards from Dontrel Chance, who also scored on an interception, as well as 118 yards and three touchdowns from Gerry Ford to enter the playoffs on a roll as well as preventing Freeport (4-5) from entering the playoffs with a 50-21 victory over the Pretzels.
→ Brandon Rogers threw for 281 yards and five touchdowns as Harlem (7-2) finished strong with a 49-28 victory over East. Seth Swinehart scored two touchdowns for the E-Rabs (2-7).
→ Austin Smaha finished off a strong season with another 166 rushing yards and three touchdowns as Belvidere North (2-7) topped Auburn 35-30. Demarshay Martin ran for 78 yards and two touchdowns for Auburn (0-9) as the Knights had their highest scoring game this season.
→ Belvidere (4-5) scored 20 points early, then held on as Jefferson (3-6) came back, but fell short, losing to the Bucs 20-14. Troy Vandenbroek threw for 179 yards to lead the Bucs. Chrissen Murphy ran for 71 yards and a touchdown for Jefferson.
From the Oct. 27-Nov. 2, 2010 issue