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Winning formula propels Blazers in big conference game

By CHRIS SHIELDS
Sports Writer
With playoff ramifications on the line at Nathan Hale Stadium Friday night, the Daniel Boone Trailblazers used a familiar formula to down a top conference foe.
Blazer coach Jeremy Jenkins’ strategy has led his team to great success this season and given them an identity. In the games where Boone has played well they take chances in the first half – usually grabbing a lead before pounding the ball in the second half, working the clock and tiring opposing defenses.
It has been the same story every week and Friday night was no exception as the hosting Blazers (7-2) exploded offensively in the second quarter eventually eating up the clock and punishing Tennessee High (6-3) on offense and defense in the second half. Leading up to the contest both teams shared the same record overall and in the conference, leaving the game as an important postseason indicator.
The first quarter began with both teams unable to move the ball against the opposing defense, swapping field positions and trying to get a feel for one another.
Tennessee High was the first to make a mistake as the first quarter was winding to a close. On fourth down with his back to the endzone, Viking punter Brandon Rutherford bobbled the snap and decided to throw down field. An ineligible receiver call gave the ball to Boone at the Viking 12-yard line. A couple of plays later, Cliff Sanders carried up the middle breaking through the Tennessee High line for a 4-yard touchdown.
The following Viking possession was marred with penalties, forcing a three-and-out punt. On the first play of the Blazer possession, quarterback Kevin Connell rolled left and threw to a wide-open Austin Seal for a 44-yard touchdown. After the Brandon Burkey extra point, the Blazers possessed a 14-0 lead.
After both teams fizzled on offense, Boone took control of the ball after a punt at the Tennessee High 46 with just less than five minutes to play in the half. After a 27-yard Kevin Connell pass, the Blazers weren’t able to get into the end zone. Burkey responded with a 34-yard field goal to give Boone a 17-0 lead. Heading into halftime, the Boone defense had held the Vikings to just two first downs, both coming on their opening possession.
The Blazers received to start the second half, using part two of their tandem at quarterback, Austin Reppart.
After completing a couple of medium passes to Travis Keever, their offensive drive ended with penalties. The following Viking possession was another three-and-out, making it seven straight for the Boone defense. After a huge Rutherford punt, Boone was back to their formula – running the ball and the clock.
A few plays later, a costly fumble on a Connell mishandled snap gave the ball to the Vikings at the Boone 24. Once again, the Boone defense came up strong, shutting down the Tennessee High offense and holding them to just three points. A sloppy third quarter ended with Boone still in control 17-3.
Starting the fourth, Boone put together a 10-play, 52-yard drive chewing up almost half of the quarter. But the Blazers couldn’t score from the one, turning it over on downs. After an incomplete on first down, Hayden Chandley, who did a little bit of everything all night on defense picked off a Viking pass and returned it for a touchdown. That gave Boone a 24-3 lead with only five minutes to play.
On their ensuing possession, Tennessee high was finally able to get a first down, their first since opening the first quarter. With many Blazer reserves in on defense, Tennessee high was able to score on a 5-yard pass, the final points of a 24-10 game.
Connell and Reppart combined for 10 of 17 passing for 142 yards and one touchdown. Boone totaled 94 yards rushing on 30 carries. Tyler Shepherd and Cliff Sanders received the majority of those carries.
The win gives Boone a huge advantage from a playoff standpoint with one game looming on the schedule, and it’s a doozey.
The Blazers travel to Crockett on Thursday, Oct. 28, to meet their biggest rival in the annual Musket Bowl.