LEBANON, Tenn. (WRCB) -- Boyd-Buchanan fought through the final two quarters, but the knockout blow of their season came in the final minute of the first half in Friday's Class 2A state semifinal.
Moments after Bucs' quarterback/defensive back Jim Cardwell limped off with an injured ankle, Friendship Christian finished a 55-yard march with a short touchdown run to seize momentum and a 14-point lead en route to a 27-6 win.
Cardwell returned in the second half, but was limited by a noticeable limp. Which in turn, limited the Bucs' spread-option offense.
A.J. Long took care of the scoring for the Commanders (12-1), throwing for two scores and running for two more. Steven Hollis added 183 yards rushing for a Friendship Christian attack that slowly wore down the Boyd-Buchanan defense.
Rance Harden, who finished with a team-high 76 yards on the ground, scored the Bucs' lone touchdown on a short run midway through the first quarter.
Long opened the scoring with an eight-yard pass to Stefan Remus on the game's opening drive, and followed Harden's score with a one-yard sneak early in the second quarter.
His second TD sneak just before the half was the back-breaker, giving the Commanders a 20-6 lead. With Cardwell playing only offense in the second half, Long burned his backup in the secondary for a 30-yard scoring strike to Cale Mitchell late in the third that closed the scoring.
Boyd, which will graduate 16 seniors, finishes the season with a 12-2 overall mark. Friendship Christian advances to next week's Class 2A state final in Cookeville, where it will try to defend its title against Adamsville.
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