For just a few minutes, Daniel Boone lost its iron-fisted grip on a victory over Sullivan South.
However, quarterback Jacob Littleton owned his mistake, and the Trailblazers emphatically re-seized control.
Boone went on to earn a 30-16 victory over the Rebels in a Big Eight Conference football game at Hale Stadium on Friday night.
Moving to 4-2 in league play, Boone improved to 7-2 overall. The Rebels fell to 2-4, 4-5.
Leading 17-3 and having stuffed South twice with three-and-outs at the start of the second half, Boone was in complete control of the game. However, Littleton made an ill-advised pitch attempt while being tackled and the ball landed on the ground. South’s Dylan Wieger scooped up the loose ball at the Boone 20-yard line and returned it the 6.
Two plays later, Jake Weaver made Boone pay with a 3-yard scoring run to make it 17-10.
“(Littleton) had a tough week, losing his grandmother, so he’s had a lot on his mind,” said Boone head coach Jeremy Jenkins. “He said, ‘Coach, I was just trying to make a play, and I made a mistake.’
“We go to war with Jacob Littleton. He’s a battler and a winner.”
Littleton guided the Trailblazers right back down the field to restore their two-touchdown lead. Boone went on a 10-play, 70-yard drive that was capped by Dustin Chandler’s 4-yard scoring run to make it 24-10.
After taking a 9-3 lead into the locker room, Boone held South to minus-two yards of offense in the decisive third quarter.
“Our defense played one of the best second halves we’ve had in a while,” said Jenkins. “We didn’t do anything with Xs and Os at halftime. We just challenged them to play hard. In the second half, we controlled the line of scrimmage.”
Boone ended any doubt with a 12-play all-ground 68-yard fourth-quarter drive that was capped by Ryan Gaitor’s 3-yard scoring run to make it 30-10.
Boone running back Josh Bacon didn’t score, but was a big part of the win. He carried 18 times for 122 yards in his second game since taking over from Cliff Sanders, who was dismissed from the team.
“It’s a big loss, losing Cliff,” said Bacon. “But we had to step up and fill his spot.
“All of the credit goes to the offensive line. They helped me get my yards.”
Littleton finished with 57 yards rushing while also completing 6 of 10 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown.
South quarterback Charlie Moore totaled 134 yards of offense, including 83 yards on 13 carries.
Gaitor set up Boone’s first score. He received a punt at his own 5-yard line, and raced 72 yards to South’s 28. Four plays later, Littleton scored on a 4-yard run to make it 6-0.
The Trailblazers stalled out inside South’s 5-yard line midway through the second quarter, but Zach McCracken had the solution with a 21-yard field goal to give Boone a 9-0 advantage.
South finally got on the scoreboard with 54 seconds left in the first half. Taylor Moore booted a 35-yard field goal.
The Trailblazers opened up a two-score lead when Littleton hit Michael Osterman with a 25-yard strike that went through the hands of a South defender in the end zone. Dustin Chandler’s 2-point conversion run made it 17-3.
South’s final score came on a 1-yard leap by Weaver with 2:22 left in the game. Weaver finished with 61 yards on 16 carries.