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Boone wins with special teams, defense despite ugly brawl

Football at all levels tends to dispense the glory and fame to just a couple of positions on the field.
Most of the time, a team’s punter isn’t named player of the game and is rarely responsible for a team’s win or loss.
But on a cold evening with temperatures feeling more like January than November, Daniel Boone High School punter Hayden Chandley did the unthinkable; he punted his team to a win.
Boone (9-2) opened its pursuit for a trip to Murfreesboro at Nathan Hale Stadium on Friday in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs against conference foe, Sullivan South (6-5). The Trailblazers won the game 7-0.
As good as the Blazer football program has been the last couple of years, South has been its Kryptonite.
The Rebels knocked Boone out of the playoffs last season and drubbed them earlier this season at home 41-16.
Round Two promised all the makings of a true heavyweight bout; as it turned out, this could be taken in both the literal and figurative senses.
As the third quarter was winding down and both teams were fighting for their season’s life, emotions were running high.
Boone’s Hunter Ford intercepted a Rebel pass, taking it downfield where he was knocked out of bounds at the Blazer sideline.
The usual extracurricular activity after the play soon turned into more.
Players from both team benches ran out into the ruckus as complete chaos soon engulfed the field.
Referees, coaches and even law enforcement intervened, taking control of the game.
One of the referees who intervened in the brawl received the only known injury, but still went on to finish the game.
Boone’s Tyler Shepherd and Seth Choate were ejected for their roles in the scuffle along with one Sullivan South player.
With only a minute left in the third quarter the Blazers maintained a 7-0 lead, with the only points of the game coming in the second quarter when, deep in their own territory, a bad snap went over the head of the Rebel punter.
Boone took over first and goal at the 5-yard line.
A play later, Cliff Sanders found pay dirt on a short run, and Brandon Burkey was able to add one.
The first play after the ruckus, Boone’s Austin Reppart threw downfield, but was intercepted by the Rebels.
After getting close to midfield, the Boone defense stood strong again, just as they had all game.
Entering the contest, the Rebels possessed one of the best and most dangerous players in the area, quarterback Heath Haden. On Friday, the dual-threat player was held to just 32 yards rushing and completed only four passes.
Boone took over entering the fourth quarter, but was forced to call on Chandley again after a three-and-out.
The Blazer punter who finished the game with six punts, once again stuck the Rebels inside the 20.
Chandley isn’t the strongest-legged punter, but has been extremely efficient.
The first-round playoff game was his finest effort of the season.
Of his six punts, most hit inside the 20, with a couple rolling close to the five.
For a football team locked in a defensive struggle, the punter can be the x-factor and on this night, Chandley was just that.
A Rebel fumble gave the ball to Boone with just more than eight minutes to play in the game.
A few plays later, Boone returned the favor as Kevin Connell was trying to stretch the ball into the end zone and was stripped.
South couldn’t get anything going deep in their own territory and was forced to punt out of the back of the end zone.
But the Rebel defense wouldn’t go away, holding Boone to a three and out.
After a Chandley punt, the Rebels took over at the 21 with 2:31 left in regulation.
Poor clock management and failing to get out of bounds left Sullivan South with a minute on the clock and 70 yards between them and the end zone.
On fourth down, Hayden threw deep downfield finding an open receiver that could potentially be a game-tying touchdown pass, but Blazer sophomore Jacob Littleton was able to wrestle the ball away, recovering the fumble and sealing the game at 7-0.
Offensively, the Blazers struggled throwing the ball, completing nine of 22 passes for 103 yards, with Reppart receiving most of the snaps at quarterback.
Boone was more effective than their opponents rushing the ball. Cliff Sanders was the one bright spot on offense, finishing with 22 carries for 137 yards and the game’s only touchdown.
Daniel Boone will have to play another group of Rebels in the second round of the playoffs as they travel to Knoxville West on Friday, Nov. 12. West beat neighboring Tennessee High, 31-7, to advance.
Boone will be forced to play without Shepherd and Choate who will have to sit out the game for their part in the melee.