Special to The Gardner News
After three tough, hard-fought losses, Gardner Edgerton was due for a game like this.
Coming back from a 10-0 halftime deficit, the Blazers scored three fourth quarter touchdowns in a wildly entertaining 27-20 victory over a very talented Blue Valley West team in an EKL matchup at home last Friday evening
Both teams were clicking on offense all night, combining for nearly 1,000 yards from scrimmage. But the beleaguered defenses came up with enough big plays to keep the score from skyrocketing to the stratosphere.
Each offensive unit came up empty on their first possessions, despite moving the ball deep into enemy territory. West fumbled and Gardner Edgerton’s Maurice Murphy recovered on the Blazer eight yard line and GE was inside the one before a penalty thwarted a drive which ended with a missed field goal.
On their next drive, the powerful West offense again moved the ball inside the Gardner Edgerton ten yard line. Once more GE defense coordinator Kris Henry’s group made a big play, getting a stop on a third and three, which forced the Jags to settle for a 30-yard field goal at the 9:42 mark of the second quarter.
The Blazer defense would be right back on the field after GE fumbled the kickoff after the Jag score, giving West the ball on the Blazer 20. After the Jags moved to the six yard line, GE’s secondary of Murphy, Riley Craig, Tommy McLennan and Dustin Williams forced an incompletion on a third down play and the following field goal try was wide right.
Riding the legs of superstar running back Traevohn Wrench- who would finish the game with 188 yards on 27 carries, the Blazers mounted another scoring drive after the missed field goal. Unfortunately, two holding penalties were too tough to overcome and the possession ended with a field goal try coming up short.
The Jags then used the powerful right arm of quarterback Ryan Ralston to score on a 45-yard TD pass right before half to take a 10-0 lead into intermission.
Needing a score in the worst way on their first drive after the break, GE responded with a six play drive to paydirt with the TD coming a 38-yard run by Wrench. A big play on the drive was a 26-yard pass completion from Jared Hobbe to tight end Josh Lang. Hobbe had a big night throwing the ball, completing 11 of 14 aerials for 212 yards and two TD’s.
That was the only score in the third period, setting up a scintillating fourth quarter.
West scored first in the frame, getting a 25-yard field goal when the Blazer defense led by linebackers Matt Plank, Denton Lawrence, Boston Scott, and Dalton Kirk shut down the Jag running attack after a long pass play moved the ball to the six-yard line.
GE responded quickly after that stop when Hobbe hit Jamain Lang on a short pass and Lang, channeling Otis Taylor in Super Bowl IV, broke a tackle and then outraced the secondary to the end zone for a 56-yard score. A missed extra point kept the game knotted at 13 with just over seven minutes remaining in regulation.
And what a seven minutes it would be. Led by defensive linemen Max and Conner Knorr and Emilio Fowler, the Blazer defense forced a punt on the next Jaguar possession. That punt was returned 48 yards by Marshall Wade, giving GE possession on the West 19-yard line.
With the entire defense geared up to stop Wrench, the Blazer coaching staff made a great play call to get the go-ahead touchdown.. After two Wrench runs sandwiched around a Wade carry and a Jag penalty gave GE a first down, the Blazers went to a reverse with Jaylon Radel getting the carry. The junior slot back responded with an eight- yard run to the promised land, giving GE a 20-13 lead with 2:48 to play.
It took only 32 seconds for West, who would finish with over 300 yards through the air, to score the equalizer on a 43-yard scoring strike.
Again the Blazer offense was equal to the challenge and again it would be Radel who would get the score. The junior speedster caught a 35-yard TD pass from Hobbe to put GE up 27-20 with 59 seconds remaining in the contest.
That would be plenty of time for West to mount a scoring drive. Using almost all passes, the Jags moved quickly down to the Blazer 17, setting up a final try for the end zone. That final pass play succeeded, apparently giving West the tying TD with no time left on the clock. However, a penalty for illegal receiver down field negated the score, but still gave the Jags one untimed down and a chance to pull this one out The GE secondary responded, knocking that final pass away in the end zone to preserve an incredible triumph.
“A good win against a really good opponent. Our players have been practicing so hard and have been getting better despite the losses and tonight they showed that they are a good team. To come back from ten down at halftime against a squad that I expect to contend for the 5A state championship is a big accomplishment, “said head coach Marvin Diener after the contest.
Next action for the Blazers will be at Blue Valley North on Oct. 5. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.