By ADAM PRUIETT
The playoffs are supposed to provide the ultimate pressure-packed environment, one that can turn men into boys and boys into babies.
Under the most demanding of circumstances Friday, Tate Boley belied his age and played like a man — and a possessed one at that.
Making the first start at quarterback of his high school career, the Charlestown sophomore embraced the magnitude of the Class 3A Sectional 31 semifinals, playing with poise and showing a dynamic playmaking ability in a 41-24 victory over host Brown County.
The Pirates (8-3) ultimately needed every bit of the charge Boley gave them in the first half. His three touchdowns before halftime helped Charlestown build a 28-0 lead, but Brown County (6-5) made a furious rally in the second half to get within 35-24 with 6:54 left before junior Jason Houchens’ interception late could finally let the Pirates rest easy.
The Eagles began the game using a full-house backfield, but its ineffectiveness coupled with the large deficit forced them to begin throwing the ball. Brown County excelled in that area behind quarterback Dillon Boknecht, who tossed four touchdowns in the second half, including three to wide receiver Luke Huls.
Ultimately, it was a slew of penalties that derailed the Eagles’ comeback. Down 35-24 in the fourth quarter, Brown County initially looked like it trimmed Charlestown’s lead even further as Cody Leeper took a screen pass 22 yards to the end zone, but the play was called back on a penalty. The Eagles had a first-and-goal from the 5 on the drive, but penalties forced them to attempt a 48-yard field goal, which they missed.
That series essentially sealed the win for Charlestown, which won for the eighth time in last nine games despite several lost fumbles in the second half that kept Brown County’s hopes alive.
That hope had dimmed significantly in the first half.
Boley took over under center for freshman sensation Antonyo Gaddie, who was suspended for the game due to a violation of team rules. Boley wasn’t completely devoid of experience at quarterback, but he was close to it, playing a half last week in the first-round win over Corydon Central.
With Gaddie unavailable, Boley got the call against the Eagles, who had already clinched their first winning season since 1995. It took all of three plays for Boley to make an authoritative statement to his fellow Pirates that they were in good hands and to Brown County that it was in trouble.
Facing third-and-6 from the Charlestown 49 on the opening series, Boley swept right and cut back toward the middle of the field. He exploded through an opening and raced 51 yards for a stunning beginning to his starting debut as the Pirates’ signal-caller.
He was just getting going.
After senior Jimmy Garcia forced a fumble that junior Jacob Wheeler recovered, Charlestown moved the ball to the Brown County 24 and faced a fourth-and-4. Boley took a sweep left this time and followed a convoy of blockers for a 24-yard touchdown.
Boley capped Charlestown’s scoring in the first half with a 9-yard TD run. He finished with 198 yards on 17 carries, including a 65-yard run. Also in the first half, junior Tristan Chester hit junior Hunter Crace with a 17-yard touchdown pass.
Although the Pirates struggled in the second half with fumbles and blown coverages, junior Eli Daniel ripped off a 34-yard touchdown run and senior Matt Myers raced 49 yards to the end zone to conclude things in the fourth quarter on a strong note for Charlestown’s offense. Myers had 126 yards on 14 carries.
Boknecht threw for 271 yards after completing 19 of 47 passes with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
CHARLESTOWN 41, BROWN COUNTY 24
Charlestown 14 14 7 6—41
Browns County 0 0 12 12—24
C — Tate Boley 51 run (Tate McClelland kick), 11:01.
C — Boley 24 run (McClelland kick), 2:17.
C — Hunter Crace 17 pass from Tristan Chester (McClelland kick), 10:08.
C — Boley 9 run (McClelland kick), 1:14.
BC — Luke Huls 22 pass from Dillon Boknecht (kick failed), 7:45.
C — Eli Daniel 34 run (McClelland kick), 6:15.
BC — Huls 4 pass from Boknecht (pass failed), 2:35.
BC — Alex Cade 27 pass from Boknecht (pass failed), 9:02.
BC — Huls 21 pass from Boknecht (kick failed), 6:64.
Charlestown (1-2-17-0): Chester 1-1-17-0, Daniel 0-1-0-0.
Brown County (19-47-271-2): Dillon Boknecht 19-47-271-2.
Charlestown (45-433): Boley 17-198, Myers 14-126, Daniel 9-63, Cameron Hopson 2-26, Jimmy Garcia 2-11, Chester 1-9.
Brown County (26-29): Billy Pruitt 7-21, Cody Leeper 3-17, Chase Snider 4-8, Boknecht 12-minus-17.
Charlestown: Crace 1-17.
Brown County: Huls 7-108, Cade 5-57, Snider 3-74, Austin Walsh 1-16, Jordan Knoebel 1-8, Leeper 1-5, Philip Palmer 1-3.