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Sept. 24, 2005

After hot start, Blair gets passed over in home loss

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
Sept. 23- BLAZER STADIUM

Since last week's first-in-41-years win over Springbrook apparently wasn't challenging enough, the Blair Blazers faced an even more daunting challenge tonight. Their task was to beat a 2-0 Quince Orchard team; something that hadn't happened in forever. Literally.

It still hasn't. After scoring a touchdown on their first drive, the Blair (1-2) defense appeared overwhelmed by the Cougars (3-0) and lost at home 27-16.

QO quarterback Pepper Coe was six-for-nine for 90 yards and a touchdown. While he only threw for one TD, he had two pass completions on third down that led to scores for the visitors. He completed his first five passes of the game.

After the game, Blair coach Jeffrey Seals was blunt on what his team needed to work on next week in practice: "the pass," he said. "We had trouble stopping it."

Blair also struggled on special teams, as Cougar returnee Jewison Hertault ran a punt in the first quarter back 54 yards for a touchdown. That play swung the momentum towards the Cougars, and they outscored Blair 21-9 the rest of the way.

Nonetheless, Seals was encouraged by the hustle shown by the Blazers in the second half as the game slipped out of range.

"We showed character out there tonight," he said, after he had the team applaud itself in a huddle on the field following the game. "Nobody gave up. We fought to the bitter end."

An end that saw the halftime score of a 20-10 Cougar lead stand up until there was 1:24 left in the game, when running back Ulysius Gaston took a handoff from the one yard line and scored to put QO up 17 and seal the game.

But even after that, as the crowd of hundreds was filing out of Blazer Stadium, quarterback Ross Williams launched a pass up the right sideline that was caught by Greg Ruffin for the only Blair reception all night. Ruffin beat his defender, Bani Gdbayu, and scampered into the end zone for a 55-yard touchdown.

In fact, Blair led most of the first half tonight. On the first drive of the game, the Blazers followed last week's formula by rushing the ball every play. Rodger Brown, who did not have a carry versus Springbrook, busted a 28-yard run on the drive.

On the next play, Jacob Wade ran up the middle of the field, broke four tackles, and bulldozed over the goal line for a touchdown. Brian Arias' extra point gave Blair a 7-0 lead.

A lead that would be cut almost entirely later in the quarter when Hertault took Arias' punt back. "We made a bad mistake and we have to work" on special teams, Seals said. Hertault broke three tackles as he ran up the left sideline nearly the whole length of his return.

QO took the lead for good in the second quarter when the Cougars got all the way down to the one-yard line. Blair stuffed the first two attempts for a touchdown, but not the third. Gbadyu ran up the middle, and a two-point conversion gave QO a 14-7 lead.

After Brian Arias kicked a beautiful 35-yard field goal for Blair, the Cougars answered with just 17 seconds left in the half. After having a touchdown run negated on a holding call, Coe found Hertault in the front of the end zone for a 20-10 lead.

While the Blair defensive backs struggled, Blair's defensive ends put pressure on Coe and his offensive weapons much of the game. Rodney DeRose had two sacks and nearly forced a fumble. The fumble appeared to be clean, and was rushed back for a Blair touchdown, but the referees ruled Coe was down before the ball was jarred loose.

"That was a bad call," Seals lamented. "If that had gone the other way, we could've won this thing," he said wistfully. Alas, it did not, and Blair did not. Corey Sanders and Alford Qaranicdalu also sacked Coe in the game.

The last tough momentum dagger came in the fourth, when a 21-yard kick by Arias was called no good even though it appeared to split the uprights barely on the right side. Instead of cutting the deficit to seven points, Blair stayed down 10 and allowed the touchdown late that sealed the loss.

Still, Seals acknowledged the level of competition he was up against tonight and praised how his squad has improved from last year. "We weren't a pushover; our kids have been fighting every night."

In the post-game huddle, he told his players the importance of practice. One Blazer said "we can beat Sherwood if we practice."

That might be a tall order for next week; Sherwood is ranked 10th in the D.C. Area, second in the 4A West behind Damascus. And the game is in Sandy Spring, where Blair has struggled the last few seasons. The Warriors' passing attack is stronger than the Cougars'. Seals acknowledged these facts, and said, "This is why we have to practice."

The Blazers' offense was anchored again a cornucopia of running backs. Terrin Flowers-Jackson had 11 carries for 58 yards, while Wade had ten for 39. Ross Williams actually ran nine times himself, gaining 37 yards. Brown had 41 yards total on six runs, with the vast majority coming on that one 28-yard rush in the first quarter.

For QO, Tommy Kerotky caught three passes for 63 yards, including 30 on one bomb in the second quarter. Gaston carried the ball 14 times and gained 84 yards and a touchdown. Hertault was responsible for two touchdowns; one on a punt return, the other a 12 yard TD. That complemented a 14-yard reception earlier in the game.

Even though the scoreboard said 11-point loss, Seals said his team is coming together. "We're meshing; We're getting better. If we can continue to gel, we'll be good, because we're definitely producing something."







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  • Anonymous on September 24, 2005 at 9:58 PM
    Blair beat Springbrook last year....
  • sco lover on September 25, 2005 at 11:17 AM
    blair TECHNICALLY beat springbrook last year, but that was only because of an after-the-fact forfeit. they dominated us on the field.

    http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/inside.php?sid=3835
  • being 4 REAL on September 26, 2005 at 4:20 PM
    Blair's JV team underwent an even more embarassing loss; 35 to nada.
  • Ian Procter on September 26, 2005 at 7:19 PM
    The varsity game was not an embarresment and if you really think it was tell me your name and "be 4 real"
  • GG on September 27, 2005 at 10:52 AM
    Ummm yeah, anyway you missed the battle of da bands (quince wasn't bad:))
  • ...... on September 27, 2005 at 10:06 PM
    The loss wasn't embarassing. Blair performed much better than anyone expected them to. Competing against QO, and having opportunities in the game to win is not something to be overlooked (especially for Blair). Just ask paint branch.
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