Special to The Gardner News
A physically dominating defense and a stellar game from star running back Traevohn Wrench were the keys to success for Gardner Edgerton last Friday night as they opened district play.
Facing off against defending 6A champion Olathe South, the Blazers used one of the best defensive efforts in recent history and Wrench’s all-world talent in a 34-20 victory that was not as close as the final score would indicate.
Wrench, who is finding his all-state form after being limited earlier this season due to a toe injury, rushed for 310 yards on 29 carries with four touchdowns.
The first of those TD runs came at the 7:39 mark of the opening quarter when the junior speedster found a crease in the defense and then made several remarkable cutbacks on his way to an 83 yard score. Tim Mitchell’s extra point gave GE a 7-0 lead- a lead they would never relinquish.
South did crawl back into the game, getting to within one at 7-6 on a 12-play 46-yard scoring drive midway through the second quarter. It took three plays for the Falcons to move the final two yards for the score-a clear indicator that the Blazers were winning most of the battles defensively.
In fact, Kris Henry’s unit was suffocating all night, allowing just 125 yards rushing on 41 carries and making life miserable when South tried to pass. The “brotherhood” had nine tackles for loss with most of those coming on quarterback sacks. Linemen Max Knorr and Logan Powell accounted for the lion’s share of those sacks and kept the pressure on all game. They weren’t the only two standouts for GE. The other two defensive linemen-Conner Knorr and Emilio Fowler were also dominating at the line of scrimmage which allowed linebackers Matt Plank and Denton Lawrence to make tackle after tackle. The defensive secondary came up with some big plays with Dustin Williams, Maurice Murphy and Riley Craig each standing out.
With the defense playing so well and Wrench looking like the best running back in the state, it was just a matter of time before GE would put distance between themselves and a Falcon team that has been very highly rated most of the year.
After the South score, it would take just three plays for the Blazers to answer-a one yard run by Wrench, a 12-yard pass from Jared Hobbe to Jamian Lang and an electrifying 67-yard run to paydirt by Wrench. Mitchell’s extra point made it 14-6 and that is the way the half would end.
The third quarter started in a pouring rain but it did not slow the GE juggernaut. On South’s opening possession, the Blazer defense forced a three and out and the GE offense responded with a 9-play scoring drive to up the lead to 20-6. Big plays on the drive came in the passing game. Hobbe, who continues to impress from his quarterback position, hit Josh Lang on a 16-yard completion and Marshall Wade on an 8-yarder that came on a big fourth down conversion deep in enemy territory.
South had one last attempt to make a game of it when a high snap on a Blazer punt late in the third period gave the Falcons possession on the GE two yard line. South did push it over for a score but it took four plays to do so. The extra point narrowed the gap to 20-13 with 1:06 to play in the quarter
GE would answer with scores on their next two possessions. First it was Wrench with another highlight reel run which would go 63 yards for six to put the Blazers up 27-13 entering the fourth quarter.
The next score came on a six-yard run from Wade. The junior fullback had another nice game with 25-yards on five carries and the big fourth down pass reception earlier in the contest.
Wade’s TD made it 34-13 with 5:58 to play in the game. The Falcons did put together a late touchdown drive to make the final score 34-20.
For the game GE outgained South 337-175, showing how totally dominant the Blazers were.
A jubilant head coach Marvin Diener was very pleased with his resurgent team’s statement win.
“It was our finest hour. This was one of the best efforts of any team I have ever had. That win was a reward for the boys who kept working hard in practice and never lost faith even when we were losing those close games early. This team has a chance to be really special,” said Diener.
Next up for the 4-3 Blazers will be a trip to Olathe to face Olathe North. Game time is 7 p.m. on Oct. 19.