WILLIAMSBURG — Kentucky’s All-Stars trailed 20-6 after three quarters and 27-23 with just 2:34 to play in Saturday’s 6th annual Border Bowl against Tennessee. But with 1:39 left Dylan Beasley of Nelson County connected on a 90-yard touchdown pass to Tranard Chester of Lafayette and the boys in blue held on for a 29-27 win. The victory snaps Kentucky’s three-year losing streak in the series between senior all-star football squads.
Despite a dreary weather day, it was a game for the ages and could go down as one of the best game in Border Bowl history. Tennessee out-gained Kentucky 161-126 on the ground and 309-280 overall while gathering 21 first downs to Ky.’s 13. But they lost one of two fumbles and threw three interceptions as Kentucky took advantage of the 4-0 difference in turnovers to pull out the win.
Tennessee got things started early as they capped off a three-play, 38-yard drive to score on a 35 yard touchdown pass from Nick Meyers (Maryville) to Rian Hall (Oak Ridge). The extra point was good by Alex Sigmon (Tennessee High) to make it a 7-0.
Kentucky finally found their way into the end zone at the beginning of the 2nd quarter as Kentayvus Hopkins (Bourbon County) ran it in from 9 yards out to make it a 7-6 game. The extra point was no good, so Kentucky found themselves still trailing. Tennessee would answer back on an 11-play, 80-yard drive capped with a 7-yard run by Antonio Webber (Millington) to extend the lead back out to 14-6. That was still score going into the half.
Tennessee had all the momentum as they got the ball back after a forcing a punt and started their offense with another long drive that looked to demoralize the Kentucky team. They went 80 yards in 13 plays, and Hall scored again on an 11-yard pass from Dillon Woodruff (Riverdale). The lead was 20-6 after three quarters.
Kentucky came out in the 4th quarter with a vengeance and looked to make a comeback for the ages and one that the fans of the Border Bowl wouldn’t soon forget. The Bluegrass boys were sparked by John Hardin’s Wade Holtsclaw, who led all rushers in the game with 91 yards on ten carries. Austin Pray of Perry Central capped a 10-play, 73-yards drive with a one-yard TD plunge early in the fourth to start the comeback. Lucas Williams of Russell County added the PAT to bring Kencuky within 20-13.
The Kentucky defense came up big shortly after as cornerback Aaron Jackson (Frankfort) stepped in front of a pass and took it 40 yards back for a touchdown . The extra point was good by Williams and the score was tied at 20 with 12:08 to play.
After forcing another stop, the Kentucky offense was held to just a field goal by Williams from 18 yards out, but it was good enough to give Kentucky their first lead of the game 23-20 with just 7:33 remaining. Tennessee would answer back though with 2:34 left in the game as Dallin Bridges of Clarksville capped a short drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Sigmon’s kick put Tennessee up 27-23.
Kentucky’s final drive started back inside their own ten-yard line, but on the second play Chester took Beasley’s pass 90-yards for the go-ahead touchdown. The point after was no good, but the 29-27 lead held up when the Kentucky All-Stars stopped Tennessee on fourth down and then ran out the clock.
Beasley was named the game’s MVP after going 8-16 through the air for 154 yards and that game winning touchdown pass. Chester led Kentucky’s receivers with 90 yards on that one catch while Jordan Olinger of Hazard caught two passes for 37 yards and Ryle’s Nathan Davis had three catches for 27 yards. Hopkins finished with 35 yards on 12 carries and Pray added 15 yards on eight runs. Bell County’s Jonathan Polly ran once for four yards and caught one pass for two yards.
Tennessee was led on the ground by Contrez McCathron (Mt. Juliet) as he carried the ball 10 times for 63 yards. Quarterback Nick Meyers went 7-12 through the air for 78 yards and a touchdown. Hall had four catches for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
Defenisve standouts for Kentucky included Jackson, who was in on ten tackles along with his pick six; Somerset’s Tevin Slaughter and Owenboro Catholic’s Logan Cart each had eight tackles and a sack; Knox Central’s Jeffery Canady and Lexington Catholic’s Anthony Kersey also had interceptions in the game.