December 19, 2014

Trailblazers defeat St. Thomas Aquinas, 27-18

Dave Switzer
Special to The Gardner News
Propelled by a fast start, Gardner Edgerton edged Aquinas 27-18 in a 5A district game played on Oct. 21.
The Blazers looked like they were going to run away with this one early, going up 21-6 after Traevohn Wrench’s third touchdown at the 11:07 mark of the second period.
Wrench’s first score came on a five-yard run on GE’s initial possession.  That run culminated a three-play-all Wrench rush-drive that was set up by an electric 50-yard return by Tim Seymour on the game’s opening kickoff.
Two possessions later, the Blazers added to that lead with a 55-yard touchdown pass from Jared Hobby to Wrench.  Chase Lee’s extra point put GE in front 14-0 at the 2:05 mark of the first period.
Aquinas used a 45-yard TD run to cut the gap to 14-6 before the Blazers answered quickly.
On the first play after the kickoff, Wrench went 72 yards to pay dirt on one of his signature scampers.  The sensational sophomore used his speed to get into the secondary and then stiff-armed a defensive back on his way to the end zone.  At that point, it looked like the route was on at 21-6.
It didn’t happen.  Aquinas battened down the hatches defensively, almost completely shutting down the GE running attack.  The Saints also came to life offensively, adding a touchdown in the waning moments of the first half to cut the margin to 21-12 at the intermission
Aquinas would also have the ball coming out to start the second half with a chance to really make a game of it.
Just as they did last week against Pittsburg, the Blazer defense would stand tall, forcing a three-and-out on the Saints first possession of the third period.
A short punt gave GE great field position at the Aquinas 35.  Seven plays later, Hobby took it in from one yard out to increase the Blazer lead to 27-12.  Big plays on that drive came in the passing game.  Hobby hit Wrench for a 14-yard completion on a crucial third down and Ryan Goetzmann made an incredible leaping catch that set GE up at the seven-yard line.
Hobby was on all night through the air, finishing nine of 11 for 158 yards.
The Blazers needed the sophomore quarterback to have a stellar passing night as the running game was sputtering.  GE would only finish with 25 yards rushing in the second half (169 overall)  and didn’t have another scoring opportunity the remainder of the game.
Aquinas was having difficulty moving the ball as well.  Led by standouts Marcus Williams, Brent Bovitz, Matt Plank, Justin Long, Eric Moore, and Jared McDermott, the Blazer defense thwarted three consecutive Saint drives after the Hobby score.
Aquinas did break through for a touchdown to get to within nine at 27-18 with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth period.  Williams kept it a two-score game by blocking the extra point.  After recovering the subsequent onside kick, GE ran out the clock and celebrated a hard-fought, gritty win against a very good opponent.
“It was a great game and a big win for us.  Aquinas is awfully tough-especially defensively.  We were very fortunate to have the good start and then played well enough to win.  Our defense made big plays all night and played awfully well,” head coach Marvin Diener said after the contest.
That win moves the Blazer record to 6-2 on the year and most importantly to 2-0 in district play.
However, the victory did not sew up a playoff spot.  Because of Pittsburg’s shocking 48-38 victory over Blue Valley, all four teams in the district remain alive for the two playoff berths entering the final week of regular season action.
For GE, the path is clear.  Defeat Blue Valley on the road next week and they are in.  A loss could set up a scenario in which point differential could be the deciding factor.
Kickoff for the Blue Valley game is 7 p.m. on Oct. 28.

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