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Nov. 12, 2005

Blazers lose to Damascus

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
NOV. 11, DAMASCUS-

Damascus is known down county as farmland about five miles beyond the end of the earth. But in a part of the county that knows about literally digging holes for farming, the Blair Blazers got an education in laying the seeds for their own demise.

Five turnovers, including a fumble on the opening kickoff, cost Blair's varsity football team dearly as they saw their playoff dream go up in smoke with a 35-21 loss to the Damascus Hornets.

The Hornets (10-0), who clinched their first undefeated season ever, built a 35-7 lead midway through the third quarter before the Blazers (6-4) began chipping away at it.

Blair, already facing an uphill climb before they got on the field tonight, made it even tougher on themselves by dropping the opening kickoff at the Hornets' 29-yard line.

Blazers head coach Jeffrey Seals said the shaky start was due to nerves from playing the state champions in front of a standing-room only crowd. "We were a little scared at the start," he said.

After the defense held Damascus to a fourth down and 20 at the 25, the Blazers' pass coverage disintegrated, as Kyle Frazier connected with Kyle Hogan across the middle of the field for a demoralizing touchdown.

On Blair's next drive, running back Ross Williams had the ball punched out of his arms. Damascus' Jimmy Shay picked up the rolling pigskin and didn't stop until he had a 58-yard touchdown return. Just seven minutes into the game, Blair trailed 14-0 thanks to their own mistakes.

"The turnovers really hurt us at the start," Seals said. "It was hard for us to climb out of that hole." Williams' fumble was just one of four turnovers that Blair committed in Damascus territory.

Blair also hurt themselves by allowing numerous big plays on defense. Damascus' next score came thanks to a 51-yard run from Kyle Hogan, on another third down and long. Playing on senior night, the burly rusher had 122 yards on just 10 carries.

Despite the fumble, Williams anchored the Blair offense again, carrying the ball 23 times for 173 yards and a touchdown. Jacob Wade had two rushing touchdowns tonight as well.

With Blair just one more mistake away from having the game completely unravel on them, they battled back and forced a key turnover. Corey Sanders recovered a Steven Anderson fumble for Blair at the Hornets' 17-yard line.

After Williams got 16 yards on the next play, Wade got the last one, finishing the drive with a touchdown to cut the deficit to 14 halfway through the second quarter.

The score appeared like it would stay a respectable 21-7 at halftime. However, with under a minute left in the half and facing a third down and 16 yards to go, Seals elected to pass the ball. Quarterback Aaron Simon, who had passed for just 10 yards all night, had his throw batted down at the line of scrimmage by a Damascus lineman.

Where a run would have whittled the clock down until 25 seconds before Blair punted, and made it nearly impossible for Damascus to try and score before the half, the incomplete pass stopped the clock.

The Hornets used the extra 30 seconds to their advantage, stringing a four play, 56-yard drive in just 43 seconds. Frazier connected with Tom Cosgrove for a four-yard touchdown reception with just 17 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

Following the game, Seals recognized the error. "That was a mistake that we made as the coaches," he said. "We thought we could still try to score there, and that was a poor decision."

Another quick touchdown, this time a ten-yard run from Cosgrove, made the lead 35-7 Hornets, causing some of the 150 or so Blair fans that made the trek up to Damascus to begin searching for their car keys. But the Blazers made a run to make the game interesting.

Blair, and more precisely, Williams, dominated the fourth quarter. Williams capped a nine-play drive with a one-yard touchdown run. One play later, the Blazers recovered a fumble at the Hornets' 48-yard line. A Damascus crowd that had been raucous the entire game was beginning to turn eerily silent.

After two separate runs by Williams for 17 and 18 yards, respectively, Wade had a five-yard rush for his second touchdown of the game. With seven minutes remaining, Blair had cut the lead in half, and it was 35-21.

"We kept battling," Seals said. "In the past, a Blair team would have quit down 35-7," he said, referring to the many losing seasons in the school's past. "I was proud."

The Blazers got the ball back again with under five minutes remaining. Williams lined up at quarterback and called his own number nearly every play on the drive. After one 20-yard rush, he limped off the field, nearly exhausted from all his fourth quarter rushes.

Blair got the ball down to the Damascus 38 yard-line, but Simon overthrew Williams at the 10-yard line, and was intercepted. The Blazers got another golden chance to cut the lead after they sacked punter Nick Sefcik at the Hornets' seven-yard line with two minutes remaining. But three penalties pushed Blair back, setting up a fourth down and goal from the 28-yard line.

Damascus' Ben Mintum picked off Williams' desperate pass into the end zone on fourth down. The fifth turnover of the game sealed the loss for Blair.

As the final horn sounded and the Blazers huddled on the field for the final time, the coaches looked on the positive side. Assistant Earl Lindsey said Blair showed "real big heart" in mounting the rally, urging the disappointed Blazers "to keep your heads up. Y'all had a great season."

Seals said he was "really proud of the seniors." He said that the rally, while it did come up short, showed that the team didn't want to embarrass the school by being blown out. "It said something about our pride, I think. I hope the underclassmen take something away from this. Damascus is a championship team, and we didn't quit."

Williams is one of those underclassmen, and if he can play as well in 2006 as he did the final six games of 2005 (900 rushing yards), Blair will likely make another postseason run.

Seals said that the team's success headed into next year hangs on how they train the next nine months, but that Blair faces different challenges than perennial contenders like Damascus and Sherwood. "Our record next year will be based on our off-season. But Blair's a different world than these up-county schools," he said.

"We can't have practice every day in the summer, because kids have to make money for their families, which they [Damascus's players] don't have to do." Seals then pointed to the school in the background, a student body that had just seven percent on FARMS, the county's free lunch program. Twenty-one percent of Blair is on FARMs.

Although he'll still need a ticket to get into a playoff game this year, Seals was pleased with Blair's 6-4 record. "Six wins is alright; I'm really proud of the guys this year. These kids came out and worked as hard as they can, and didn't have any bad losses." Every team the Blazers lost to this year is in the playoffs.

Looking back on his second season as Blair's head coach, Seals said there was one lesson that his team taught him. After rallying from a 1-3 record to nearly make the postseason, Seals said the Blazers should be proud of how they came back.

"As long as you never give up, you'll always shine."



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  • awwww on November 12, 2005 at 7:12 AM
    gj Blazers for coming so close.
  • senior on November 12, 2005 at 9:02 AM
    good season guys.
  • James (View Email) on November 12, 2005 at 10:25 AM
    I thought we were gonna beat the best but i must have thought wrong. Damn they r soo goood!
  • nice game on November 12, 2005 at 3:37 PM
    great job blazers! you guys played so hard. there's always next year!
  • hey on November 12, 2005 at 7:06 PM
    hey good job blazers hot record, any winning record should be in the playoffs in my opinion. And 35-21 vs state champs? not bad...not bad at all...

    looking forward to a hot record next year too.
  • Collin (View Email) on November 12, 2005 at 10:31 PM
    Our senior players are insane, i wish them all the best where ever they go next year. It was great playing with y'all.
  • '05 Alum on November 13, 2005 at 12:18 AM
    Wow, tough loss but still an awesome season. Hope next year will be better.
  • Keith on November 13, 2005 at 1:24 AM
    hey gj blazers
    and i agree with hey
    35-21 agianst an undefeated team?
    former state champs?

    keep ya heads up cuz u guys took blair out of the hole
    (at least this year)

    now Ian all u gotta do is come back for lax and bring that good luck our way man!
  • Caleb Seavey (View Email) on November 13, 2005 at 8:50 AM
    Go Blazers
  • another win on November 13, 2005 at 7:40 PM
    against the defending state champs, in their stadium, at their homecoming, this is nothing for the blair blazers to hang their head about

    an amazing game to go along with an amazing season
  • a reader on November 13, 2005 at 7:58 PM
    "Much more information to come."

    When? The game was two days ago.
  • GJ on November 14, 2005 at 8:07 AM
    It was Damascus' homecomeing game too. geting it that close took some serious skillz
  • fan on November 14, 2005 at 8:34 AM
    amazing season, you guys came back and won in my book. next year we're going all the way.
  • blazzar on November 14, 2005 at 4:30 PM
    ross williams is the future of blair football hes sick with it.
  • '07 on November 14, 2005 at 5:13 PM
    Damascus beating Blair was kind of a given but Blair has had a good season overall.
  • Devon on November 14, 2005 at 6:27 PM
    Love the last quote, bud

    good article.
  • alum on November 14, 2005 at 7:27 PM
    this years team was just average. They had a very soft scehduale and beat the teams they were supposed to beat. but when they face a team at 500 or better they were blown out.
  • Big Country on November 14, 2005 at 9:04 PM
    Good season guys!!! mad props fo getin to 6 wins, yall lil JRs need to win states nex year, wit da people yall go returnin yall should
  • M Roc (View Email) on November 14, 2005 at 9:56 PM
    Great season guys. Next year I'll help ya'll go all the way.

    Also get ready for a great basketball season.

    OOOOHHHHH SSEEVVEENNN!!!!!
  • are you serious?? (View Email) on November 15, 2005 at 1:27 PM
    "We can't practice everyday in the summer because kids have to make money for their familes which the damascus players don't have to do." does anyone else see something wrong with this statement?

    This is a huge generalization and I feel that you are rediculous coach seals.
  • E on November 15, 2005 at 3:18 PM
    Congrats guys for an awesome season and no worries, this is only the beginning!!
  • 05 on November 15, 2005 at 4:24 PM
    "this years team was just average. They had a very soft scehduale and beat the teams they were supposed to beat. but when they face a team at 500 or better they were blown out." -alum

    More like JEALOUS ALUM!!! The schedule really was no "softer" than previous years, with the exception of adding Kennedy for Magruder (which does make the schedule softER, but its really no softer than previous years). As to teams over .500, they only got blown out by Sherwood. They beat Springbrook, played QO even, and kept close with DMass. In conclusion, just because the team you we're on (you probably played, or else you would'nt be hating on them) wasn't very good, don't be jealous of them.
  • Shake dem Hataz off on November 16, 2005 at 11:23 AM
    All i have to say is GREAT JOB BLAZERS!!!!!!
    all these people that come on here and say negative things no nothing about what it means to paly ball at blair, no matter what blair record has been over the years they have allways produced GREAT athletes..Any coach in montgomery county will tell you that in a heart beat!!!Keep ya heads up!
  • Kimani Jones on November 16, 2005 at 12:18 PM
    Blair didn't win the game, that always hurts, but they did not quit out there either. The thing that impressed me the most about the team was the fact that they did not throw in the towel when they could have, that takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to be down, on the road, and still come out and fight tooth and nail for everything you get. The underclassmen on the team should use this as a stepping stone for next year. Games like this (Damascus) mature teams. I expect Blair to win no less than 8 games next year, anything else would be a disappointment. Keep Grinding Fellas!!!

    Kimani Jones
    1994 8-2 Member
  • moo03 (View Email) on November 16, 2005 at 12:34 PM
    hey big shout out 2 my boy Brian you had a great year and you are definetly going places wuth that kick of yours !peace!
  • wifey95 (View Email) on November 16, 2005 at 12:38 PM
    shout out to my boy Brian Arias, I think you are the best and congratulations on upcoming graduation...and also a shout out to Jacob Wade you had a great season son. congratulations !!!!!06 baby!!!!!!!
  • skinsfan (View Email) on November 16, 2005 at 12:40 PM
    Waz up wit dem Redskins
  • jessica maria (View Email) on November 16, 2005 at 5:47 PM
    hey brian u are my lil cuzin and all but i got 2 say you had a great season keep it up aight peace
  • support on November 17, 2005 at 12:26 AM
    maybe if more people came to the game to support the players, we could've won - think about it you guys, a different school in the middle of cornfields, and the state champs, with d-mass people in our side of the bleachers? yea, that's right.
    anyways, you guys did a great job!
  • Andy (View Email) on November 17, 2005 at 1:44 PM
    win or loss blair is now on the board. Jv had a 500 season and varsity was over 500 for the first time in years. we have the potential to build an amazing program but whether or not we do better next year is up to how we work in the off season. lets go to work. GO Blazers
  • gcs@tmail.com on November 18, 2005 at 1:59 PM
    yall cant be scared, u cant play scared. get tough.
  • damascus on December 12, 2005 at 11:26 PM
    damascus was playing their B/C squad

    its nice to think that we could've won but realistically, there was no way
  • yo on December 21, 2005 at 10:07 AM
    Good job blazers we played good and plus we scored the most against damascus any other team had this season
  • blazer on January 5, 2006 at 12:23 PM
    being a .500 jv team and having an above .500 varsity squad doesn't mean squat. two years ago boys varsity soccer was 10-5 a while jv went 10-0. the following year varsity went 3-9-1. I'm not saying it will happen with football, but don't be surprised if it does.
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