LEBANON, Tenn. - In the final minute of the first half, Jim Cardwell suffered an ankle injury. He had to be helped from the field.
Cardwell on two legs had kept his Boyd-Buchanan team within striking distance through the first 23 minutes, but the last 55 seconds of the first half were devastating -- his ankle injury and a 55-yard touchdown drive by Friendship Christian that gave the host Commanders a commanding 14-point lead.
The handicapped Buccaneers, though allowing just one more TD, simply couldn't generate enough offense and wound up losing 27-6 in Tennessee's Class 2A semifinals.
"We got outplayed. We got outcoached," Boyd-Buchanan coach Grant Reynolds said for the benefit of the TV cameras.
He knew, though, when Cardwell went down that the Bucs were going to be hard-pressed to make up any kind of deficit regardless of what his defense did. He said as much even before meeting with his team.
"Well, yeah, it changed the complexion of the game completely," Reynolds said. "We couldn't zone read, we basically couldn't run the offense, and he couldn't throw off his back foot."
Not that he was making any changes.
"I wasn't about to take that kid out," Reynolds said. "He had earned the right to be there, and he didn't want to come out, either. It's likely that he has a broken ankle."
Cardwell also had done well on the other side of the ball with a fumble caused and recovered and a pass broken up.
Game MVP honors had to go to Steven Hollis, the Commanders' sophomore back who ran for 183 yards, or junior quarterback A.J. Long, who passed for two touchdowns and ran for two.
Long, a two-time all-state transfer from Pennsylvania, was Friendship's scout-team quarterback for its defense this week.
"I had watched a lot of film on the guy and I wondered how our defense was going to handle him, but simulating him in practice I thought we'd do OK," Long said.
Cardwell, though, got off to a good start with 57 first-half yards, and the Bucs did a great job on first downs, most often ripping off at least 5 or 6 yards. But they also finished with 70 yards in penalties.
Rance Harden finished as the Bucs' leading rusher with 76 yards, including a 3-yard first-quarter score when the Bucs closed to within 7-6.