The 6th annual National Guard Border Bowl took place on Saturday January 12th in Williamsburg, Kentucky on the campus of the University of the Cumberlands (UC). The Tennessee All-Stars dressed in their Tennessee orange and Kentucky All-Stars in their traditional royal blue were ready to battle it out as Kentucky looked to end a 3 year winning streak for the boys from the Volunteer state. 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 got things started early as they capped off a 3 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 lead. Kentucky just couldn't get things going on offense as they failed to find the end zone after the first quarter and took a 7-0 defecit going into the second quarter.
Kentucky finally found their way into the endzone though at the beginning of the 2nd quarter as they continued to hold Tennessee's offense to minimal yardage. The All-Stars for Kentucky found themselves on the board 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 early in the 2nd quarter. Tennessee would answer back though on an 11 play, 80 yard drive ending with a 7 yard run by Antonio Webber (Millington) to extend the lead back out. Another extra point by Sigmon was added on giving Tennessee a 14-6 lead. Tennessee looked in control going into halftime as they were able to keep Kentucky out of the end zone and take a 14-6 lead into the half.
Kentucky came out looking to take control but 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. After another 13 play, 80 yard drive that ended on an 11 yard touchdown pass from Dillon Woodruff (Riverdale) to Rian Hall, Tennessee looked in control with a 20-6 lead with only a quarter left to play.
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 state boys were sparked early in the 4th quarter as Wade Holtsclaw (John Hardin) decided to put the state of Kentucky on his back. After solid rushing from Kentucky, they began their epic comeback with a 1 yard touchdown run from Austin Pray (Perry Central) to cut into the lead. The point after by Lucas Williams (Russell County) was good making it a 20-13 game.
Kentucky's 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 for Kentucky. The extra point was good by Williams, making it a 20-20 tie ballgame. 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 left to play. Tennessee would answer back though with 2:34 left in the game with a 1 yard touchdown run by Dallin Bridges (Clarksville) and an extra point by Sigmon giving Tennessee the lead back at 27-23.
The Kentucky All-Stars had all the pressure on them. They took the challenge head first though as Dylan Beasley (Nelson County) connected on a 90 yard pass to Tranard Chester (Lafayette) for the game winning touchdown with just 1:39 left in the game. Although the extra point was no good, it gave Kentucky a 29-27 lead. The Kentucky All-Stars then held Tennessee on a 4th down which gave Kentucky the victory, snapping Tennessee's 3 year winning streak. The 2013 Border Bowl MVP was given to Kentucky's Dylan Beasley as he went 8-16 through the air for 154 yards and the game winning touchdown pass.
Kentucky was led on the ground by Wade Holtsclaw as he ran the ball 10 times for 91 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.
Numerous players were given individual awards at the end of the game, but each player in this game gave their all in a fantastic effort by both teams. The fans came away electric with the excitement and each player walked away with their head up and proud because they gave the fans in attendance as well as those watching from home a game they will remember for years to come.
The Border Bowl committee will have a daunting task to top this year's game, but each and every year they continue to show that some of the best high school football talent in the country is right here in Kentucky and Tennessee.