Special to The Gardner News
Things couldn’t have gone better for Gardner Edgerton at the start of their 5A state semi-final clash with Blue Valley.
With less than one minute elapsed in the contest, the Blazers had already scored a touchdown and recovered an onside kick.
But the Tigers thwarted the GE drive after that recovery and then used a power running attack to upend the Blazers 34-14 and earn a trip to the state finals next week against Hutchinson.
The Blazers early touchdown came on a 58-yard run by Traevohn Wrench on the game’s third play from scrimmage. GE’s first two plays on that drive were both 11-yard pass completions by quarterback Jared Hobby to Wrench.
GE then surprised Blue Valley with the onside kick-the recovery set the Blazers up in great field position at the Tiger 46. Hobby continued his hot hand in the passing game, hitting Ryan Goetzmann on a crucial third-down strike to move the ball to the 34-yard line. Wrench picked up 11 yards on his next two carries to get the Blazers even closer to a score. But the drive stalled at that point, giving Blue Valley the ball for the first time
The Blazer defense made a great stand on that possession using a key quarterback sack by junior corner Riley Craig to force a three and out.
After the punt, GE quickly gained nine yards on two Wrench runs. A third down pass incompletion set up a fourth down at their own 44-yard line and the Blazers decided to go for it. Blue Valley stuffed the attempt and the momentum of the game swung their way.
The Tigers scored the game’s next three touchdowns-all on drives of 40 yards or less. Blue Valley’s first score came at the 2:25 mark of the first quarter after the big fourth down stop. The Tigers then went in front 13-7 midway through the second period on a 12-play 40-yard drive.
That set up perhaps the game’s biggest play on the following kickoff when GE was unable to field a high kick into a swirling win. Blue Valley’s recovery gave them the ball at the Blazer 25.
Relying almost entirely on the run-the Tigers would only pass for 51 yards in the contest-BV used a seven play drive to go in front 20-7 with about six minutes to play in the second quarter. Neither team would score again before the break.
To begin the second half, it took only one play-an 80 yard run-for the Tigers to make it 27-7.
The Blazers responded to the quick score with a 12-play 77- yard drive to cut the gap to 27-14 with eight minutes to play in the third period. Sophomore quarterback Hobby completed four aerials on the drive which included a 33-yard catch and run by Marcus Williams and the scoring play- a 26-yard pass to Wrench.
But that was as close as the Blazers would get. Blue Valley upped the lead to 34-14 on their next possession, scoring on a 40-yard run with 4:10 remaining in the third.
GE continued to fight, getting a great kickoff return to the BVHS 46 yard line from Tim Seymour after the Tiger score. Unfortunately the Blazers were three and out after that return.
Blue Valley played ball-control the rest of the contest and cruised to the 34-14 win.
Overall, GE ended the game with 122 yards through the air with Hobby completing 11 of 22 passing attempts. Wrench led the receiving corps with seven catches and a touchdown. Seniors Goetzmann and Williams ended their careers with two catches each. On the ground Wrench was the only Blazer who was not in negative territory, gaining 97-yards on 17 totes.
Defensively, Matt Plank, Justin Long, Brent Bovitz, Craig, Eric Moore, Jacob Fretz and Justin Long stood out for GE.
The loss does not diminish a fine season by Gardner Edgerton. The Blazers-playing the most difficult schedule in the state, posted an 8-4 record and reached the state semi-finals for the fourth consecutive season. Check our print edition for more local sports!
Gardner-Edgerton Blazers outsted by BV Tigers from state semi-finals