After a Blazer win last week against Olathe East 34-6, the football team welcomed Sunflower Elementary students into school Sept. 27. It was a nice surprise for the students on a beautiful morning. Submitted photo
Sometimes the best thing to have in football is a short memory.
The Gardner-Edgerton High School football team proved that Thursday night as they banished all memories of the problems that plagued them in last week’s heartbreaking 1-point loss to Lawrence and put together a commanding 34-6 win over Olathe East at College Boulevard Activities Center.
GEHS senior quarterback Teven McKelvey took control of the offense in the 2nd half. McKelvey totalled 168 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns on 16 carries (10.5 yds./carry) for the night, with 130 yards and 3 TDs coming in the 2nd half.
As a team, the Trailblazers played a much improved fundamental game, as they drastically cut down on penalties and offensive miscues and turned in a very stout defensive performance.
After the win, Gardner-Edgerton head coach Ryan Cornelsen reflected on the loss from the last week and what it did to focus his team’s effort against East.
“I felt like — we were at home, we’ve won a lot the last year-and-a-half, and we got embarrassed,” said Cornelsen. “It embarrased me, it embarrassed our team, and so it was a gut check all week. We challenged them. We’ve got injuries. We’ve got every reason to make excuses, and they just didn’t. They just decided that, it doesn’t matter what the situation is, they’re going to play as hard as they can, and tonight was the result. We cleaned up a lot of mistakes — the missed tackles. We cleaned a lot of that up. We cleaned a lot of penalties up. So I was extremely proud of them.”
The game looked as if it might turn out to be a defensive struggle through the 1st quarter, as neither team could register a score. However, the Blazers ended the first frame on an offensive drive and registered the game’s first touchdown 4 plays into the 2nd period. Trailblazer senior tailback TayeZahn Crough capped off a 10-play, 77-yard drive when he took a counter handoff over the right side of the Blazer line to score. Though the ensuing PAT was missed, Gardner-Edgerton still held a 6-0 lead with 10:22 left to go in the 1st half.
East countered with its own long drive — a 13-play, 64-yard drive that was punctuated by a 2-yard touchdown plunge by the Hawks’ junior tailback Ma’rrell Fountain. East attempted a 2-point conversion off a faked kick PAT, but the Blazer defense snuffed out the attempt. The score remained 6-6 with 4:53 left to play in the half.
The Trailblazers struck back almost immediately. After Crough’s 23-yard kickoff return, GEHS took over on their own 30. On the very next play, Crough took a crossbuck carry from right to left around the Blazer line and raced 64 yards all the way down to the Hawks’ 6-yard line. McKelvey then took a read option keeper to the left for the last 6 yards and a score. With the extra point from junior kicker Caleb Calvin, Gardner-Edgerton held a 13-6 lead into halftime.
The Blazers received the opening kick of the 2nd half and then completed a 9-play, 68-yard scoring campaign, highlighted by a 39-yard McKelvey read option carry. The scoring march was punctuated when McKelvey took another read-option carry — this one over the right side of the Blazer offense — for 7 yards and his 2nd score. With the Calvin PAT, the score was 20-6 GEHS with 7:48 left to play in the 3rd quarter.
The Blazer defense then stood up and forced East to turn the ball over on downs for the 2nd time in the contest, giving GEHS back the ball on the Trailblazer 29.
Three plays later, on 3rd-and-5 from the Blazer 34, McKelvey galloped off on another long run — this one of 60 yards to the East 6. The Trailblazer signal-caller then racked up his third TD of the evening two plays later, when he went over from 6 yards out, to give GEHS a 27-6 advantage going into the 4th quarter.
The Blazers registered the final frame’s only score when McKelvey’s 4th TD of the night — a 2-yard QB sneak — capped off a 12-play, 80-yard drive and made the score 34-6 with 6:58 left to play. The key play in the drive came when McKelvey turned receiver on a 3rd-and-13 from the Blazer 17. From there, senior quarterback Tyler Goetzmann connected with McKelvey on 49-yard pass completion to the Hawks’ 33 on the 4th quaryer’s first play.
After the Blazer scoring drive, the Hawks appeared to be completing their own scoring campaign near the end of the contest. East had a 1st-and-goal from the Trailblazer 3-yad line with 2 minutes left to play. However, for the third time that night, the Blazer D forced a turnover on loss of downs, tackling the Olathe East ball carrier at the GEHS 2 on 4th-and-goal and preserving the game’s final margin.
After the game, McKelvey — who, in addition to his rushing total was 1-for-2 passing for 37 yards and had 1 reception for 49 yards — spoke about his improvement in running the read-option..
“This week we went over the option a lot,” McKelvey said, “but now I’m a senior and I’ve been through the varsity level, so I’m more calm now. I’m not as anxious as I was back when I was a sophomore or junior, so running the option game gets easier because I’m more calm now.”
Besides McKelvey, the Blazers had another runner eclipse the century mark in rushing for the game, as Crough totalled 104 yards and 1 TD on 12 carries (8.7 yds./carry). Senior fullback Jacob Butash racked up 45 yards rushing on 12 carries, while senior tailback Jacob Renaud had 14 yards on 3 carries to go with 1 reception for 37 yards.
The Blazers improved to 3-1 on the season and will host Olathe Northwest this Friday at the Gardner-Edgerton District Activities Center for Homecoming. Kickoff is set for 7:00 P.M.