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Prep Football: Boyle's Megilligan plays key role in shutting down Bell offense

November 27, 2010|By HAL MORRIS | hmorris@amnews.com
  • Boyle County's Paul Megilligan helped the Rebel defense hold Bell County to 141 yards and 28 points under its average. (Hal Morris photo)
Hal Morris photo

PINEVILLE — Paul Megilligan knew that beating Bell County meant shut down the Bobcats’ powerful running game. And Boyle County did just that.

Bell came into Friday’s Class AAAA semifinal averaging 305 rushing yards per game and 415 yards overall. But Megilligan helped Boyle hold the Bobcats to just 78 yards on the ground, with 45 of those coming on one run. He also had a fumble recovery, one of four Bell turnovers, in the Rebels’ 25-21 win.

“That was their game, they run the ball. They can pass the ball, too, but if you take what a team does, take it away from them and make them go to their backup, it means you’re doing your job,” Megilligan said. “It was just effort up front. They’re big, but East Jessamine was big. You’ve just got to come off the ball. It’s not always about size, it’s about technique.”

Boyle held Bell’s Cory Davenport to just 66 yards rushing, but 45 of those came on a fourth-quarter run, and harassed quarterback Ben Madon into an 11-for-23 game for 183 yards and an interception. Bell was held 141 yards and 28 points under its average.

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Which is exactly how the Rebels wanted the game to go.

“That’s what we wanted. That’s what we worked for. You never know what’s going to happen, but we did what we wanted,” said Megilligan, who sensed that the Bobcats’ got frustrated with their offensive futility. “You watch them the whole year, they weren’t used to being stopped.”

Bell coach Dudley Hilton thought both defenses, and a muddy field, stopped both offenses. But he thought Boyle had as much to do with it as anything.

“They played hard, played a good game. I think the mud played a little part in the role on both teams. You didn’t know where the mud spots were,” he said. “Both of us, I tell you, you’ve got to give credit to both teams for being great defenses.”

Boyle’s defense just made the plays when it counted.

Megilligan also helped stall a Bell drive after Boyle took an early lead.

Up 7-2, Bell got a 27-yard pass play from Madon to Cody Davenport. But two plays later, Madon took off toward the right sideline. He was stripped and Megilligan, coming from his defensive line position, fell on the ball to stall the Bobcats’ drive.

“He rolled out, Lamar stripped it. When you get 11 hats to the ball that’s what happens, so he stripped it and I recovered it,” Megilligan said.

Plays like that are why Boyle coach Larry French is such a fan of Megilligan.

“Paul is one of those young men that’s going to prepare himself, get himself ready and going to give 100 percent every play. You’re going to have to block him, because he’s going to give you a great effort. He gives a great effort every night,” French said.

“We thought we could shut their run down with our kids. We always worry about the pass, but we knew if we got them to throwing the football, it was out of character for them. And we got them doing something they didn’t want to do.”

On Bell’s next series, Madon lofted a high pass that fell into the arms of Boyle’s Bryan Ferrell. That led to a 7-yard scoring run by Devon Hale that gave the Rebels a 14-2 lead. Bell’s final turnover, a bobbled punt return from Davenport, led to William Harris’ 22-yard field goal with 6 minutes, 10 seconds to play.

“We’ve got kids all over this team that are football field that are winners. That’s just the bottom line,” French said.

It was even sweeter for Megilligan, who was a starter as a sophomore when Boyle lost 17-15 at Bell in the 2008 semifinals.

“It feels great on this field. I saw some of the seniors from two years ago in the end zone, and it just fired me up,” he said. “It’s the only way I could repay them. I felt horrible as a sophomore having to look at their faces.”

Now the senior wants to cap his career with a second straight unbeaten, state championship season.

"It’s a dream come true. Coaches and everybody says it, what’s better than one ring? Two,” Megilligan said.

And if he has to play every play like he did Friday, all the better.

“I love this game. If we had to go another hour of it,’ he said, “I’d be ready to go.”

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