BOYNE CITY — Between a stable of running backs and a tough defense, Boyne City was able to overcome the absence of its starting quarterback in a 27-6 Division 6 playoff victory over Elk Rapids.
With junior signal-caller Corey Redman sidelined with a pinched nerve, the Ramblers turned to a running game that churned out 267 yards on the ground. Not to be outshined was the Boyne City defense, which limited the Elks to 135 total yards.
Malik Smith rushed the ball 26 times for 184 yards and three touchdowns on runs of 6, 5 and 57 yards to lead the Ramblers.
"We had to step our games up tremendously," Smith said. "But we had a lot of faith in our second-string quarterback. He's a good athlete and I wasn't worried at all."
Boyne (8-2) started slowly with new quarterback Jordan Wilmot under center as the Ramblers turned the ball over on their first three possessions. The second of those turnovers, the first of two interceptions by Kole Douglas, was returned 46 yards for a touchdown that gave Elk Rapids a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Douglas also had a pick on Boyne's next possession, but wasn't able to capitalize that time.
Boyne City came out with some playoff jitters in the early going, trying to beat the Elks (6-4) for the second time this season, after posting a 28-12 win during the regular season meeting between the two Lake Michigan Conference rivals.
"Jordan hasn't taken a ton of snaps at quarterback," said Boyne City coach Dave Hills. "He hasn't started at that position in a few years. There's going to be that (struggle) and I was a little overly aggressive early. So the interceptions early, those are my fault. I shouldn't be calling those plays with a kid who is just trying to get settled in. I thought he played great. He adds another dimension to our offense."