Boyle assistant coach Chris Mason agreed.
"Highlands is such an emotional team that holding them to only a field goal was huge," Mason said. "
Boyle scored on the first play after the field goal on a 76-yard run by Brandon Smith, but Highlands had runs of 25 and 47 yards to regain the lead at 10-7, and senior defensive back Ian Loughry said that score came too easy.
"When they went down and scored after Brandon's touchdown, we knew we had to get more physical and play our style of football," Loughry said.
And get physical they did.
The Rebels received interceptions from Loughry, Seth Tamme and Evan Teague the rest of the way, and scored after each miscue.
The play that broke the Bluebirds back, though, was a fumble recovery by Loughry one play after an 80-yard kickoff return to begin the second half with Boyle leading 14-10.
Highlands had faked a reverse on every kickoff return during the first half. This time T.J. Kramer kept the ball and went 80 yards with the second half kickoff. Boyle's Greg Peck had the angle for the tackle, though, and dropped Kramer at the 10-yard line.
"Thank God Greg Peck doesn't have any quit in him," Mason, who is also the special teams coach, said. "I had just got finished telling them that they were setting up a reverse. The fact that he was able to run down the runner gave us a chance to get the fumble recovery. That was huge."
Two plays later, Boyle knocked the ball away from Jordan Nevels and Loughry recovered at the Boyle 5.
"That (fumble recovery) was the turning point in the game," Young said. "When we were able to go 95 yards and chew up some clock to score, that deflated them a lot. Had they been able to score there, they would have had all the momentum and we would have been in for a dogfight."
While Boyle scored after every Highlands mistake, Mason said the fact Boyle was able to control the ball and the clock was due in part to his offensive line opening huge holes for the Rebels to run through.
"We stepped up in the second half and were able to keep their offense off the field with time consuming drives," Mason said. "While our running backs and receivers get a lot of credit, our offensive line of Jeremy Enlow, Zach Cooley, Patrick Wilson, Ian Young and Brandon Record just did a great job. They did what they had to do. They played with desire and were not going to be denied."
Loughry said that while Boyle fought through adversity at times during the year with injuries, the Boyle coaching staff had someone ready to always step in at the right time.
"I hate it that Danny went down with an injury," Loughry, who recovered from a serious knee injury the second week of the season, said. "But Brandon proved that he can not only play offense, but he can play defense, too (at linebacker). He doesn't worry about getting hurt. He just goes out and does his job."
"Thank goodness we had used him (Smith) earlier in the season (against Fairdale and Southwestern) and he had some reps under his belt," Mason said. "It paid off for us tonight. I hated losing Danny. He is a great kid and plays with a lot of heart."
Which is what the entire Boyle team did to win its fifth consecutive state title, a new state record. No one in any class had won more than four in a row until now.
"It's real special to be a part of history," Loughry said. "Everybody said we were in a down year, and we came into the season with something to prove. I think we did that."