Blazers top Richard Montgomery 7-6 in front of home crowd
SEPT. 10, BLAZER STADIUM—
With less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, Blair clinging to a one-point lead and the Richard Montgomery offense moving deeper into Blazer territory, the Rockets' quarterback rolled out to his right and lofted a soft, mesmerizing spiral inside Blair's 20-yard line. Just as the Rockets' receiver reached out his hands, Blair freshman Terrance Kelly, Jr. came blazing into the ball's flight path and snagged the pigskin with a leaping, two-handed grab, sealing the JV Football's 7-6 season opening win.
"The kids have been working hard, they deserve this win," said head coach Adrian Kelly, whose squad pounded the Rockets with their grind-it-out offensive style and gritty defensive play.
Sophomore running back Clifford Gossin carried the load for the Blazers on offense, rushing for more than 130 yards and the team's lone touchdown on 30 carries. Gossin attributed his success on Saturday to "the offensive line and cutting it back inside." Coach Kelly also praised the O-line, which allowed only one sack on the day. "Clifford ran hard, but you got to give credit to the offensive line first. The running back can't run without the offensive line."
The Rockets struck first, engineering an eight-play, 60-yard drive resulting in a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. On second down and goal from the eight yard-line, the Rockets ran the ball up the middle, and as the ball carrier went down, the ball popped loose. Despite the excitement from the Blair sideline, the running back was ruled down by contact, extending Richard Montgomery's drive. After the Blazers stopped the Rockets on a critical third down, the Rockets elected to go for the touchdown. Blair's D held tough, and appeared to have stopped the Rockets' draw play, but again the Blazers caught a bad break on a close call, as the play was called a touchdown. The Rockets point-after attempt was missed wide left, making the score 6-0.
Not until the second half, when Blair still had yet to put points on the board, did the Blazers' offense really get going. On the first drive of the third quarter Gossin willed the offense to five consecutive first downs. The Blazers benefited from mental mistakes by the Rockets defense, which committed a critical offsides penalty on a third-and-long. On first and goal-to-go from the Rockets' seven yard-line and the Blazers knocking on the end zone's door, Gossin was handed the ball. Running left, Gossin twisted his way across the goal line for the team's first points of the game.
With the score knotted at 6-6, the Blazers would take the lead with the extra point, but as evidenced by Richard Montgomery's try earlier in the game, never is it a sure thing. The Blazers were forced to call a time out after a confused special teams unit lined up with no holder. After locating the holder, and his tee, the Blazers took the field again and, despite pressure from the Rockets' defense, executed a perfect point-after attempt, putting Blair ahead, 7-6.
After a short kickoff was returned to Blair's 48-yard line, the Rockets answered with an extended drive, keeping the Blazers' defense on its heels. Jumpstarted by the first completed pass of the game by either team just before the end of the third quarter and a critical offsides penalty on the Blazers on a second down and long, the Rockets made their way to the Blair five yard-line.
Facing four downs from an offense breathing down their necks and standing just five yards from the goal line, the Blazers' defense stepped up to the challenge. On first and goal, the Rockets ran a bootleg, but the Blazers had it covered, and the play ended in an incompletion in the corner of the end zone. On second down, the Rockets tried a toss to the weak side, but the toss was high and the intended receiver fumbled it, falling on the ball for a five-yard loss. The Rockets again went to the air on third down, rolling their quarterback out to the right. The pass was deflected and mishandled by the intended Rockets receiver. After stopping the Rockets from reaching the end zone, the Blair defense mustered one more effort, and thwarted the Rockets' field goal attempt, which was deflected and pushed wide right.
After the Blazers' monumental defensive effort, the offense went back to work with just over five minutes left in the game, hoping to run the clock out. However, the offense had problems holding on to the ball, and could only muster one first down on the drive. After a Blair time out with four minutes to go, the Blazers were faced with a critical fourth and four just over midfield. Electing to go for it, the Blazers' attempted handoff between quarterback Kelly Jr. and Gossin was fumbled, and the Rockets took over on the 50-yard line, looking to win the game on their final drive.
After a first down on a quick wide receiver screen, the Rockets found themselves on Blair's 30-yard line. On second down, Kelly Jr. picked off the pass from the Rockets' quarterback, and the Blair sideline erupted with excitement. Every player on the squad made a point of congratulating Kelly Jr. with a slap on the back or a high five. The offense then took the field for two time-killing kneels, and the Blazers marched off the field in triumph, to the applause of the home crowd.
Despite the Blazers' dramatic win and subsequent 1-0 record, coach Kelly knows the team has a long way to go. "[The team's] hard work made our first W pay off, but we've got nine games to go," said Kelly. Gossin agreed, adding, "We gave it our all. We should have played harder, but we came out with the win."
JV Football's next game is September 15, 2005 at 5:30 p.m. vs. Springbrook.
Abe Schwadron. Abe is a huge basketball, baseball, and football fan that likes to read up on sports in SLAM, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN magazines. Hobbies include streetball, poker and film-making. A sneaker addict, Abe likes to keep his kicks fresh. Abe likes reggae and hip-hop music, … More »