Pete Logan
Special to The Gardner News
Improvisation — in the form of fleet-footed Blue Valley West senior quarterback Keaton Goodale — proved to be the Gardner-Edgerton High School football team’s biggest nemesis Friday night, as the Trail Blazers fell, 31-26, to the Jaguars at the Blue Valley District Athletic Complex.
Goodale rushed for three touchdowns for West, including the eventual game-decider, and kept several more plays alive with his scrambling ability. Even more frustrating for the Blazer defense, several of Goodale’s gains came about after being flushed out of the pocket by the GEHS defense.
The West quarterback’s efforts overshadowed another strong offensive showing by the Trail Blazers who rushed for 312 yards and four touchdowns on the night and gained 102 more yards through the air.
The Blazers opened the game in commanding fashion, marching the ball 80 yards in 9 plays and punctuation their drive with a one-yard TD plunge by sophomore quarterback Tyler Goetzman. The early scoring campaign gave Gardner-Edgerton a 7-0 lead 3 ½ minutes into the game.
The Jaguars answered with a scoring drive of their own, but had to settle for a 43-yard field goal after Trail Blazer senior linebacker Tucker Tribble sacked Goodale on a 3rd-and-11 at the GEHS 22-yard line. After West senior kicker John Wills converted the boot, the score was 7-3 Blazers with 4:06 remaining in the first quarter.
The Trail Blazers marched the ball into Jaguar territory on their next possession but became bogged down with a costly penalty and an incompletion, and had to punt early in the second quarter.
After West took over on their own 14, the Jaguars displayed their quick strike capability when senior running back Derrick Price took an off-tackle carry 68 yards to the end zone. Price’s scoring carry gave the Jags the lead at 10-7 with 10:43 remaining in the half.
After the Blazers went three-and-out on their next series, it took just one play for Goodale to flash his play-making ability. Running a quarterback draw, Goodale burst out to the left and sprinted 58 yards down the sideline to put the Jaguars up 17-7 with 10:43 left in the half.
Yet the Trail Blazers weren’t about to let West run away with the contest. On the next GEHS possession, the Blazers embarked on a punishing ground attack and marched 70 yards on 10 plays. The Trail Blazers finished the drive when junior tailback took a pitch to the right and barrelled into the end zone from three yards out. The ensuing extra point by senior kicker Leon Gaeta made the score 17-14 with 4:41 remaining in the first half, and both teams entered halftime with that same score.
GEHS earned a big break at the beginning on the second half, when junior defensive back Kelvin Woodson intercepted a Goodale pass on the Jaguars’ first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Woodson’s pick gave the Blazers 1st-and-10 on their own 38 just 13 seconds into the half.
The Blazers marched to the Jaguars’ 21 where they faced a 4th-and-1. Attempting to convert on the 4th down play, the Trail Blazers fumbled a pitch from QB to tailback and suffered a critical turnover when the Jags recovered at their own 22.
12 plays later, Goodale struck again. Forced out of the pocket on a 2nd-and-10 at the Blazers’ 14, the West quarterback scrambled into the end zone, and the Jaguars were once again up by 10 — 24-14 — with 3:51 left in the third quarter.
The Blazers remained down by 10 going into the fourth quarter, but improved their situation with their first possession of the final frame. After taking over on their own 20, the Trail Blazers took six plays to progress to their own 48. On the drive’s seventh play, Maxwell burst through the right side of the line on an off-tackle run, going 52 yards for his second touchdown of the night. However, the ensuing extra point attempt failed, and GEHS trailed 24-20 with 8:44 left to play.
Goodale seemed to secure the win for the Jaguars on West’s next drive. The QB carried the ball on four of the drive’s five plays, covering 59 of its 65 yards, including the last 20 — a 20-yard TD run on a rollout keeper. Goodale’s final score made the margin 11 at 31-20 with 7:08 remaining.
Still, West could not shake the Trail Blazer offensive attack. On their next possession, GEHS went 71 yards on 11 plays and capped off their drive with Goetzmann’s second one-yard touchdown carry. Though the Blazers could not convert on their following two-point conversion attempt, they had cut the West lead to five at 31-26 with 4:00 remaining.
The Trail Blazers forced the Jaguars to punt on their next possession, and GEHS took over on their own 24-yard line with 1:18 left to play and no timeouts left. Unfortunately, the Blazers’ potential game-winning drive was ended two plays later on a Jaguar interception of a Goetzmann pass.
Despite the loss, several Trail Blazers put up impressive game stats. Maxwell recorded his second straight 150-plus yard rushing game with 166 yards and 2 touchdowns on 23 carries (7.2 yards per carry). In his first game back after an extended injury absence, senior tailback Keegan Michael carried the ball 12 times for 87 yards, averaging 7.3 yards per tote. Also returning from injury, junior tight end/running back Luke Jennings rushed 8 times for 49 yards (6.1 yards per carry), while also catching 2 passes for 15 receiving yards. Meanwhile, Goetzmann turned in a solid performance by completing 9 of 13 passes for 102 yards and 1 pick, while also rushing for 2 TDs.
Defensively, Tribble once again posted eye-popping numbers with four tackles for loss and a sack, moving the West offense back a total of 15 yards.