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Blazers, Pioneers fall in season openers

The wait for high school football season ended with the Blazers and Pioneers returning to the gridiron to open the 2015 season on Aug. 21. Despite hard-fought contests from each, the Washington County rivals both fell in the openers with Crockett losing to Mountain Heritage, 42-28 and Boone stumbling against Sullivan South, 21-14.
Sullivan South 21,
Daniel Boone 14
Against the backdrop of Nathan Hale Stadium, the Blazers appeared poised to open the regular season with a win over the Rebels. Despite several opportunities to win the contest, the Blazers literally let the game slip through their hands.
Guided by their senior signal caller, Gabe Sanders, the Blazers struck on their first offensive play of the contest with Sanders finding Jacob Arnold for a 59-yard strike. Moments later Sanders would put the Blazers on the board with an 8-yard touchdown run.
South would rally back in the first half with two touchdowns unanswered, each coming on runs from quarterback Ethan Ward to grab a 14-7 advantage.
Boone would nearly even the score on the final play of the second quarter when Sanders again found Arnold on a deep pass to the corner of the end zone as time expired. Referees ruled that Arnold’s foot had come down on the line, negating the catch.
In the third quarter, the Blazers advanced into Rebel territory, but an interception at the 10-yardline ended the drive.
Following the turnover, South advanced into Blazer territory before a 2-yard run and a converted extra point put the Rebels in front 21-7.
South would nearly put the game on ice in the fourth quarter, but a costly fumble in the end zone gave the Blazers life.
The Boone offense couldn’t take advantage and were forced to punt back to the Rebels with the clock becoming a major factor.
A South fumble in Boone territory followed, and this time the Blazers capitalized with a 1-yard touchdown run by John Briggs. The Blazers converted the extra point to pull within seven with under five minutes remaining in the contest.
Boone’s defense would answer on the following South possession, stopping the Rebel offense and sending their offense onto the field at their own 25 with 1:30 remaining on the clock.
The Blazers eventually moved inside the Rebel 40 following another Sanders—Arnold hookup.
Boone’s best opportunity for points would come moments later when a Sanders pass that could have went for six was dropped.
The Blazers would convert fourth and 10 on the drive when Sanders found Jake Chandler for a 27-yard completion at the South 12 with just seconds remaining. The Blazers would spike the ball to set up a final shot to score.
A bobbled snap would end the contest as the Blazers fell 21-14.
Despite the loss, the Blazers outgained the Rebels 312 to 310 in total yardage with Sanders providing the majority of the offense.
He finished with 194 yards passing and led the Blazers in rushing with 37 yards. Arnold was his top target hauling in four catches for 86 yards.
The Blazers will hit the road this week for an Aug. 28 meeting with Cherokee.
Mountain Heritage 42, David Crockett 28
One of the most talented David Crockett teams in recent years opened the 2015 season Friday night in Jonesborough against an unfamiliar opponent in North Carolina’s Mountain Heritage High School, which unfortunately for the Pioneers, also meant an introduction to opposing quarterback Trey Robinson.
Robinson proved nearly unstoppable against an improved Crockett defense, using his legs to pile up 273 yards on the ground and three scores in guiding Mountain Heritage to a 42-28 win over the Pioneers.
Despite his game-breaking performance, Crockett kept up through the first two quarters, as the teams went into the half knotted at 22.
Despite committing three first-half turnovers, the Pioneers used a 22 point second quarter to even the contest.
Eric Day proved to be Crockett’s biggest threat of the first half, scoring the Pioneer’s first touchdown of the game on a kickoff return before finding the end zone again on a 9-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Ryan Burger to close out the first half.
Sandwiched between Day’s two scores Justin Wade hauled in a Burger pass going 65-yards for Crockett’s second touchdown of the game.
The second half would be all about Robinson who guided the Cougars to the end zone on their first two possessions of the second half.
After their go ahead touchdown early in the third, the ensuing Pioneer drive fizzled and the Cougars took over at their own 14 yard line. With Robinson carving up the Pioneer defense, Mountain Heritage would drive the length of the field punctuating their drive with a Robinson touchdown run on fourth and 10.
Down by 14, Crockett would answer on their next possession with Day’s third touchdown of the contest, this time on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Crockett’s senior signal caller.
The Pioneers wouldn’t get any closer as Robinson delivered the final knockout punch on the Cougar’s next offensive possession, capping off a 74-yard scoring drive with a long touchdown run to seal the 42-28 victory.
Burger finished with 192 yards passing and three touchdowns in the loss.
The Pioneers will travel to Chattanooga on Aug. 28 where they will square off against Howard.