Blazers shut out
SEPT. 21, QUINCE ORCHARD—
Being shut out is never empowering. It is an utter and often humiliating defeat. The Blair varsity football team (0-3), coming off of a 0-28 loss to the Springbrook Blue Devils, fell once again, 0-28, to the Quince Orchard Cougars. It's just that nobody told them. Walking off the field with their heads held high, they, along with their coaching staff, were proud. Proud that they battled. Proud that they never gave up. Proud that they showed up to play.
According to Head Coach Seals, the game was an indicator of what to work on. "It don't show but we played a hell of a game," he said. "But like every other game, this one showed us that we still got a lot to cover in practice this week."
The opening drive by the Blazers did not differ from offensive performances in the past two games. After a 13 -yard return by senior Rodger Brown to the Blair 28-yard line, the Blazers fumbled and recovered the ball on first down, losing two yards. They then committed a penalty, losing five more yards and forcing a second down and 17-yard situation on their own 21-yard line. Forced to repeat second down, they pitched the ball to the right to senior captain Ross Williams, who gained three yards. On third down, with fourteen yards to go, the Blazers punted the ball seven yards to their own 28-yard line.
The Blair defense performed admirably in their first stint against an offense that led Quince Orchard to a 10-2 record last year. Despite a pass that sailed 21 yards on first down, landing the Cougars on the Blazer three-yard line, Blair held them, forcing a turnover on downs with only feet between the ball and the end zone.
The Blair offense, retaking the field, was stopped not by the Quince Orchard defense, but by themselves. They gained 12 offensive yards, but lost 10 yards to penalties, resulting in a total gain of two and a punt.
The Cougars struggled to move the ball against a stoic Blazer defense but after 12 plays that covered little over 30 yards and five minutes on the clock, All-Met passer Jaron Morrison fell back and threw to Colin Jones in the end zone, who, with a surprising feat of athleticism, jumped over junior Haben Ghebremeschel for the reception to score the first points of the game with 29 seconds left in the first quarter, leaving Quince Orchard ahead, 6-0.
The second quarter remained scoreless and rather uneventful until the final seconds, when a questionable call jeopardized the Blazers' chances to keep Quince Orchard from scoring again. According to Seals, with seven seconds left in the half and the ball on Blair's four-yard line, senior Darius Smith declared on third down to the referees his intention to kneel the ball, which would have effectively ended the second half and prevented the Cougars a chance to score again. The referee, instead of letting Smith kneel the ball, called the play dead, stopping the clock and making it a Blazer fourth down. Then, in a move Seals described simply as, "confusing," the head referee signaled to the clock manager to add 13 seconds to the clock, leaving the Blazers at their own four-yard line on fourth down with 20 seconds to prevent a Quince Orchard touchdown as opposed to the original seven. The referees never explained their actions to Seals, so in his half-time speech he thanked his defense for preventing another touchdown. "Stuff happens and you just got to deal with it," he said. "Y'all did well."
The third quarter started with a slew of Quince Orchard touchdowns. With the help of two forced offensive fumbles by the Cougar defense, Quince Orchard scored touchdowns on both of their first two possessions, with a three-yard run by Ulysses Gaston along with a successful PAT (point after touchdown) with 9:11 on the clock and a 34-yard run by Gaston accompanied by a two-point conversion with 3:21 left on the clock, leaving the Blazers behind 0-21 at the end of the third quarter.
The Blazer defense settled down, allowing only one more touchdown to Quince Orchard's Peter Chan with 3:25 left in the fourth quarter, while the offense continued to struggle, never once crossing into Cougar territory.
Despite the daunting 0-28 displayed on the scoreboard, Offensive Coordinator Short gave a speech to his huddled team worthy of their effort. "I don't care about the fumbles. I don't care about the penalties. I care about the fact that you cared. You played with your heart tonight and I'm proud of that."
Notable performances included those by senior captain Scott Lavon, who had two sacks, two tackles and a blocked pass, by Williams, who had three tackles and an interception and by Ghebremeschel, who had an interception and two blocked passes.
But on to the problem of the Blair offense. From the bleacher perspective, the offense showed predictable patterns easily decipherable by opposing defensive coordinators. Whenever Williams set up as quarterback (which he never did this game), the ball was thrown and whenever Smith stood in as quarterback, the play called was generally a pitch to the right side to Williams. Whenever the offensive line lined up in an overload position (more players guarding one side than the other), the ball was pitched in that direction.
Notwithstanding, the Blazers showed resilience when down. A trait not yet seen this season, it demonstrated poise in which to build from.
They play the Sherwood Warriors next, Sept. 29 at home.
Robert Feasley. Robert is a llamahead. More »