Boonville senior running back Avian Thomas shattered the single-game rushing record with 32 carries for 371 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Pirates past Versailles 48-21 in a Tri-County Conference game Friday night at Gene Reagan field.
The Pirates, 5-1 overall and 3-1 in league play, led Versailles 35-7 at the half behind the play of Thomas and senior receiver Tramell Coleman, who had three catches for 39 yards and two scores.
Boonville Pirates football coach Greg Hough said a win is a win and he’ll take it, but the kids have to learn to play all four quarters or learn to play until the coaches make the substitution. “We knew the Williams kid was very good and we knew No. 7 was going to be his main target, and that’s really kind of hard to simulate because they do a lot of things pass protection-wise. They had a great first drive and were basically doing what we were giving them and that’s a quarterback that understands football and understands to take what a team gives you.”
Of course the Pirates weren’t bad, either. While finishing with 349 yards rushing and another 105 passing for a total of 455, Hough said he thought the offense was really, really good.
“We had 6-7 drives in a row with touchdowns and then we get in at halftime and we just talked about the focus of coming out and scoring out at halftime and we do and then we missed the extra point to get the running clock. We’ve done that twice now. That just goes to show you the importance of everybody doing their job from top to bottom from kicker to running back to linemen to the 50 guys on the sidelines. We just have to stay focus.”
As for Thomas, the senior standout also matched his five touchdowns from the previous week against Osage. That’s now 10 touchdowns in the last-two games and 14 rushing touchdowns for the season.
Thomas said he didn’t think he was close to the record. “Honestly, I didn’t think I had 200 and then coach is like you are 60 yards away so lets get it done for you and he got me the record so big shout out to him for that,” Thomas said. “On the last run, which got me the record, I didn’t think I was going to break it open but when it happened I didn’t know what to think. I was like, man, I finally got it. I finally got it, especially after bouncing back from my sophomore injury, so it was just big for me.”
Hough said a lot of credit goes to the offensive line. Thomas agreed.
“I knew Avian was close at halftime,” Hough said. “I’m usually not a stat guy but I talked to Mike Watts at halftime and I knew with the big 80 yard run early and what else he had prior, I knew he was sitting around 220 coming out of halftime and then he had that 42 yard touchdown run and I knew he was really close. As it turned out, he was at 371 yards to break the old record set by Kellen Kempf-who had 345. I’m happy for him but Avian knows that he wouldn’t have the record without his teammates.”
Of course it was the Nick Ferrari and Tramell Coleman show early on. After Versailles opened the game with a six-play, 69-yard drive for a touchdown on a 4-yard run by quarterback Cody Williams to make it 7-0, the Pirates came back with a eight play drive, which started at their own 49, and scored after a 9-yard pass from Ferrari to Coleman to cut the lead to 7-6. Boonville failed on the two-point conversion but got another chance after a penalty on Versailles. That’s all it took for Thomas to cross the goal line to put the Pirates up for good at 8-7.
Boonville would also score on its next-three drives-the second coming on a 18-yard pass from Ferrari to Coleman with 4:09 left in the first to extend the lead to 14-7. Then, after holding the Tigers on downs on their next drive, the Pirates took only six plays to get the score on a 13-yard run by Thomas to push the lead to 21-7 with 10:20 left in the half.
Versailles coughed up the football on its next drive, which was covered by junior linebacker Harper Stock at the Boonville 15. Two plays later, Thomas out-ran the Versailles’ defense on a 88-yard sprint down the middle of the field for a touchdown to give the boys in blue the lead at 28-7.
Thomas hit 200 yards with 2:22 left in the half but wasn’t done yet after scoring on a 1 yard run with 27 seconds remaining to up the lead to 35-7.
Boonville wasted no time getting the ball in the end zone in the second half-two plays in fact-when Thomas scored his fourth touchdown of the game on a 53 yard run with 11:15 left in the third to go up 41-7.
The Tigers came back with another touchdown late in the third quarter on a 5-yard pass from Williams to senior receiver Dallas Waller to make it 41-14 with 40 seconds left. Then, after a rare Boonville punt, Versailles hit paydirt again on a quarterback keeper by Williams to cut the lead to 41-21.
Boonville didn’t waste anytime getting the touchdown back. After the ensuing kickoff, Thomas picked up touchdown No. 5 on a 42-yard run with 4:42 left in the game to extend the lead back to 27 at 48-21.
Boonville also had 12 first downs in the game while Versailles finished with 14 first downs, 133 yards rushing and another 226 passing for a total of 359.
Ferrari finished the game 5 of 7 for 73 yards and two touchdowns. Charlie Bronakowski, meanwhile, had one catch for 23 yards and finished with two punts for an average of 29 yards per punt. Spencer Steakley had 1 catch for 11 yards.
On defense, On defense, junior linebacker Harper Stock finished with 16 tackles and one fumble recovery while Lane West had 14 tackles, three sacks and three tackles for loss, Josh Polk 12 tackles, three tackles for loss and one sack, Colby Caton seven tackles, DJ Wesolak with three tackles, two tackles for loss, three pass deflections and one sack, Tramell Coleman four tackles, DaWan Lomax, Greyson Mesik and Nathan Platt three tackles, Russell Potter, Avian Thomas, Jamesian McKee, Spencer Steakley and Alan McCarter two tackles and Dakota Rapp and Garrett Coffey one tackle.