Late rally pushes Blair football past Whitman

Sept. 27, 2008, midnight | By Anshul Sood | 13 years, 7 months ago

Two scores in fourth quarter give Blazers 13-7 victory over Vikings


The Blair varsity football team scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to overcome a traditionally strong Whitman program Friday night, 13-7. The Blazers improve to 3-1 on the season, their best start since 1964.

For most of the night, an organized Viking defense stumped the Blazers. But with less than eight minutes left in the game, senior running back Keith Ayensu finally found a hole, breaking through in spectacular fashion for a 75-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7. On the Vikings' next possession, senior co-captain defensive lineman Leo Kengni forced a fumble that senior linebacker Pablo Moreno recovered at the Whitman 30-yard line. Nine plays and a fourth-down conversion later, senior fullback Dayne Bolt hammered it in from four yards out to give the Blazers the victory, 13-7.

Photo: Junior Andrew Gondor runs the ball downfield. Photo courtesy of Gili Perl.

The entire game showcased two very strong defenses. Blair's defense didn't allow a single touchdown, as Whitman's only score came off an interception return. "I think this game goes to the defense," senior co-captain linebacker Andy Holmes said. "They kept us in the game and made up for the offense until they stepped up to put the game away."

The game started slowly as both teams tried to get moving with the ground game, but neither Blair nor Whitman could get near scoring position. Midway through the first quarter, the Vikings began driving deep into Blazer territory. However, Holmes forced a fumble that was recovered by Bolt to end the drive.

The second quarter saw much of the same as the Blazer offense struggled to get first downs. Blair kept to the running game as much as possible, only completing one pass in the entire game. The Blazer defense held strong through, keeping Blair alive in the game and making up for the stagnant offense.

Neither team could put together drives of more than two first downs as both defenses were able to get sacks and make tackles after short gains. However, the last minute of the half proved harmful for Blair. Following a touchback on a Whitman punt and a delay of game penalty, the Blazers began at their own 15-yard line. A pass by Wang was picked off by a Whitman defender and returned for a touchdown, giving the Vikings a 7-0 lead.

"The interception for a touchdown was not the players' faults," head coach Jeffery Seals said. "It was my mistake – I should not have called that play in that situation."

But the half was not over just yet. After the kickoff, the Blazers fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the Vikings at the Blazers' 13-yard line. However, the Blazer defense held strong, forcing the Vikings outside of scoring range with two critical sacks and ending the threat.

Photo: Senior Keith Ayensu rushes past Whitman players during Friday's game. Photo courtesy of Gili Perl.

After a quick three-and-out from the Vikings to start the second half, the Blazers began to gain some momentum with their rushing attack. A series of rushes from junior running back Andrew Gondor gave the Blazers back-to-back first downs. But the Blazers could not convert on fourth down at the Vikings' 32-yard line. Blair's momentum was not lost though, as they got the ball back three plays later when Ayensu intercepted the Whitman quarterback.

The Blazer's drive continued into the fourth quarter and, after a first down, ended with a failed fourth-down conversion. After the Blair defense stopped the Whitman offense cold, the Vikings pinned the Blazers with a punt at their own nine-yard line. A 14-yard pass gave the Blazers a little more space to operate, forcing the Vikings to defend both the pass and the run.

Ayensu took a handoff to the left side, broke a few tackles and dashed down the sideline for a 75-yard touchdown run, tying the game at 7-all. Ayensu led the team with 92 total rushing yards in the game.

The Vikings started their drive at their own 17-yard line but fumbled on the first play of their drive to give the Blazers great field position at the Whitman 30-yard line. The Blazers kept the ball on the ground and eventually scored on a 4-yard run by rushing team-leader Bolt to take a 13-7 lead. Bolt finished the game with 62 rushing yards and one touchdown, adding to 425 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on the season.

Blair was unable to convert the extra point due to a high snap, leaving the gap at just six points and giving Whitman a glimmer of hope. With two minutes left, the Vikings mounted their last-chance attack through the air. They quickly moved past midfield on a couple completions, but with 45 seconds left Bolt picked off the Whitman quarterback, sealing the game.

Holmes felt that the defense allowed the Blazers to stay in the game until the offense could turn it on in the fourth quarter. "Our defense was spectacular," Holmes said. "They really kept us in it until that 75-yard touchdown run by Keith. That really swung everything in our favor and our offense started going after that. It was a real game-changer."

The varsity football team plays its next home game on Oct. 10 against Sherwood at 6:30 p.m.

Editor's note: Andy Holmes is the managing arts editor for Silver Chips Print.

Anshul Sood. Anshul is a very laid-back person, a real take-it-easy kind of guy. He often burns time listening to music, playing music, watching some sports game, or playing some sport. Recently, he has entered into the world of running, though he is not very good. However, … More »

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