Rockets crash at blazer stadium

Nov. 7, 2003, midnight | By Zach Mellman | 20 years ago

Blair's offense pulls out a 35-13 win


By crushing the Rockets 35-13 tonight, the Blazers finished their 2003 campaign with three straight victories but a disappointing 4-6 record. Fortunately, the team's final three opponents, Watkins Mill, Einstein and Richard Montgomery, combined for only two victories this season, which yielded easy wins for the Blazers.

This game was over before it had barely begun, as the Blazers scored touchdowns on each of their first three plays. The offense was able to have great starting field position thanks to key defensive and special teams play. The Blazer defense forced Richard Montgomery to go three and out on its first possession, and the snap went over the Rocket punters head, who downed it at the Rocket one-yard line. Senior Hansel Cedeno then proceeded to rush the ball into the endzone for the game's first score. Senior kicker Noam Dror made the extra point, as well as his four other attempts in the game, and finished the season by successfully converting his last 16 tries.

On the next Rocket series, Blair's stifling defensive line again prevented the Rockets from getting a first down. But this time, senior linebacker Jonathon Beckwith blocked the punt and the ball was recovered by Cedeno on the Rocket 25-yard line. On the very next play, senior quarterback Jonathon Gregory threw a perfect pass to his favorite target, senior Josh Garcia, in stride for a touchdown, putting Blair ahead 14-0 with 8:00 remaining in the first quarter. Gregory also had a two-yard touchdown run at the end of the first half.

According to Gregory, the Blazers have been very inconsistent this season but finished well. "It's been like a roller coaster. We had our ups and our downs but we were able to end it on a high note," he said.

Still in the first quarter, senior Muamba Muanankese, a quality playmaking linebacker, recovered his first of two Rocket fumbles on Richard Montgomery's goaline, allowing senior running back Perry Smith to run the ball into the endzone from a yard out. Just 4:20 into the game, Blair was already on top by a whopping 21 points.

Although the Rockets scored on a 10-yard run in the second quarter and a 67-yard pass in the fourth, Blair's defense kept them in check for most of the game. Beckwith and senior TK Kimba each had first half interceptions in Rocket territory but they did not yield any points.

The game was capped off when Cedeno scored on a 54-yard rushing touchdown. He tried to rush the ball up the gut, but couldn't find a hole, so he cut to the outside, turned the corner, and outran the defenders to score Blair's final touchdown of 2003. Thanks to quality play from the offensive line, anchored by senior Herbie Morsha-Taylor, Cedeno and Smith each had over 1,000 yards for the season.

Blair scored a combined 47 points more than its opposition this year, but lost several close, heartbreaking games early in the season, preventing the team from claiming its third straight winning record. In fact, as of Nov 6, Blair was second in the Montgomery 4A East division in points against, as they have only allowed their opponents to score an average of 11.9 points per game. The Blazers had a 15-12 loss to Magruder on Sept 5, a 7-2 loss to Sherwood on Sept 13 and a 7-6 loss to Wheaton on Oct 10, all devastating losses that crushed the Blazers' playoff aspirations.

Coach James Short believes that Blair was a very skilled team, but lacked experience. "Our biggest problem was that we didn't have the experience that we had last year. The talent was there… this is one of the most talented teams here, we just didn't get it done," he said.

Senior linebacker Michael Hayes summed up the opinions for many Blazers by saying that the team may have underachieved, but still performed well. "We should have won by more. We should have won at least eight games, but all in all, we played well," he said.

Click here to stream the Blair Sports Network's highlights from this game.

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Zach Mellman. Zach Mellman was born on October 18, 1956 (he was held back once or twice). He has lived in Takoma Park, Maryland his entire life. He is currently a senior at Blair enrolled in honors classes. He is also a member of Blair's golf team, … More »

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