Special to The Gardner News
Using a physical, dominating rushing attack, top-ranked Gardner Edgerton remained undefeated by blasting Bishop Miege 43-29 in front of a packed Miege stadium on Sept. 17.
The Stags, who came into the game highly touted as well, were every bit as good as advertised – especially on offense.
But they were no match for the powerful ‘Blazer juggernaut.
GE didn’t get off to their typical great star on offense, giving up a safety on the first possession of the game,
But the ‘Blazer defense would quickly turn the tide, forcing a punt after a three and out when Miege had great field position after the kickoff.
Senior Daniel Mauszycki partially blocked that punt, giving GE the ball on their own 44.
It would only take four plays – all rushes – for the ‘Blazers to score on a 10-yard Brett Jensen run. Chase Lee booted the extra point to give GE a 7-2 lead.
Miege would then go in front 8-7 on a 30-yard TD run on their next possession but that lead was short lived.
Using the punishing blocking of the ‘Blazer line – Lucas Powell, Kyle Pacheco, Greg Hopper, Mason Rodgers, Cayden White and Alex Knorr – GE would score again-and again on a four-play drive. Getting big runs from Bubba Starling, who finished the game with 223 yards on nine totes, and Ryan Weber, who scored the touchdown on a 3-yard run, the ‘Blazers took the lead for good at 15-8 late in the first period.
A Colton Pevehouse interception on Miege’s next possession gave GE a short field and they quickly took advantage, getting a Weber touchdown run which culminated a five play drive. Lee’s extra point put the Blazers in front 22-8 early in the second period
The Stags – a very talented team with several Division 1 prospects – answered the Weber touchdown with one of their own to cut the lead to 22-16 midway through the second stanza.
That would set up the game’s biggest play on the next possession. Facing a fourth and two in their own territory, GE coach Marvin Diener decided to go for it. With the entire stadium expecting a run, quarterback Starling hit a wide open Knorr for a 48-yard completion which went to the five yard-line. A bad snap then moved the ball all the way back to the 26.
It didn’t matter. Starling made another one of his signature electrifying runs, this time from 26 yards out to score and give GE some breathing room at 28-16 going into the half.
Miege didn’t go away, trimming the advantage to 28-22 early in the third period.
But the ‘Blazer ground attack, which had more than 400 net yards, would quickly roar back to life to put the game away.
Keyed by a bruising 57-yard run from Jensen – the star running back finished the game with 148 yards and is quietly establishing himself as one of the state’s top backs – GE would up the lead to 36-22 on a Weber 13-yard run late in the third quarter.
Weber, who also had a tremendous contest, put his team in front 43-22 early in the final period with his fourth score on a one-yard run. The senior tailback finished with just under 100 yards on the night and is turning into a touchdown machine.
Defensively, Kris Henry’s unit played superb football throughout most of the second half. The ‘Blazers stopped the run all game and forced seven straight incompletions when the game was still close in the third quarter.
Mauszycki had several huge quarterback sacks and fellow linemen Pacheco, Jimmy Orwick and Cody Kidd were instrumental in stopping the run, allowing Miege just 102 yards of 30 carries. Linebackers Matt Plank, Brent Bovitz and Jeff Ragland also played pivotal roles, not only having to stop the rushing attack but also drop into pass coverage against the Stags’ high quality air attack. In addition, cornerback Ryan Newhouse stood out for his play in the secondary.
The Stags did tack on a score late in the game and piled up some yards on a late drive that didn’t reach the end zone, but it wasn’t enough.
“(We are) very pleased with the win and how physical we played. Our line played very well as did our three backs,” Diener said after the contest.
Next up will be a home game against Blue Valley Southwest at 7 p.m. Sept. 24.