It was Hawaiian night at Blackman. The students all had on their lei necklaces, Hawaiian shirts, and were looking to hang lose but The Green Wave of Gallatin were determined to spoil the fun. These two offenses could not be more different with Gallatin running a powerful, bruising, triple option style run game, and Blackman running an air raid hurry up offense.
Blackman got the scoring going as their running back said Aloha to the defense on his way to the endzone giving the Blaze a seven-point lead after their first possession. They aggressively tried to set the tone early with an onside kick to follow that Gallatin recovered. The Green Wave took full advantage of the good field position and scored a touchdown of their own and showed some aggression of their own by going for two and making it an 8-7 lead, then kicking an onside kick of their own which they recovered. Blackman was able to turn over The Green Wave on downs in their second possession, however and turned that into a touchdown in a drive that lasted a minute. It looked as though 15-7 would remain the score going into the second quarter after The Blaze defense shut down The Green Wave triple option on downs for the second time, but Blaze quarterback Jack Risner connected with wide receiver Justin Brown on a deep ball right on the money from the other side of the 50. Blackman then recovered an onside kick and scored again with a 64-yard run from running back Caden Perkins all before the first quarter ended making it 28-8 going into the second.
The second quarter started with more of the same as Blackman recovered their second straight onside kick. Gallatin kept their heads above water by marching the ball down the field on a drive capped off by a Za’Kyan Brinkley touchdown making it a 28-14 ball game after a failed two-point conversion. That would remain the score going into half as time expired on Gallatin after they moved the ball inside the five.
Just as it looked like the Blaze were going to wipeout Gallatin, The Green Wave crashed into the endzone on their first possession of the second half making it 28-21. Blackman quarterback Risner was then intercepted by Barksdale of Gallatin who took the ball inside the five-yard line. The well represented Gallatin faithful erupted like a Hawaiian volcano as The Green Wave capitalized on the turnover making it a 28-27 game after a missed PAT. Risner bounced back on his next time out, throwing a 30 Yard dart to Tight End Ben Marshall to make it a 35-27 ball game. That would remain the score going into the fourth quarter.
Gallatin melted the clock with their slow methodical offense on their first drive of the quarter knowing that the two-point conversion if they scored could possibly be the most important play of the night. They found themselves in a third down and 10 hole that they turned into a fourth down with five to go. With a superhuman effort when it had to be made, Za’Kyian Brinkley rumbled his way to the first down, giving Gallatin a first down inside the 20 and more importantly, hope. Green Wave quarterback Will Cook capitalized on that hope with his second running touchdown of the night making it 35-33. The Blaze were going to have to hold strong in a short yardage situation against this punishing run game to keep the lead with under seven minutes to go. Hold strong they did as the Blaze turned away the Wave just short. Ben Marshall the tight end who scored the last touchdown for Blackman was then put in at quarterback for the blaze to try to put the game away in the final minutes. Marshall ran the wildcat all the way down the field for the blaze, picking up 4 first downs and then finally capping it off with the game sealing touchdown, his second of the night. This made it 42-33. Gallatin was not done. Their fans practically willed them down the field and into scoring position, but once again Blackman’s defense held firm and forced a field goal that was blocked by Elijah Pitts, ending the game.
Our Game of The Week MVP is Blackman’s Ben Marshall. Ben had two touchdowns and led the Blaze’s final drive as the wildcat QB picking up four first downs on his way to the endzone. This is what Ben had to say about his performance and his two touchdowns:
“He (Coach Tygard) told me we were going to run it (the wildcat) against them, (Gallatin) so I was ready. It was towards the end of the game, so we knew they were tired and the blockers did a great job…First half was kind of quiet and then the second half I feel like I got the ball and our quarterback threw a great ball and I caught it and I feel like I got momentum on our side.”
Marshall pointed to discipline as something to work on going into next week for The Blaze.
This was a hard fought, fun game to watch. Blackman played a great game and looked like they had a good game plan ready for Gallatin, for their part, never seemed out of it till the end. They fought back every time. The difference came down to one characteristic that Blackman showed tonight that Gallatin did not and that is making the play that needed to be made when your team absolutely has to have it. Blackman came through every time. Whether it be a two-point conversion stop, a momentum swinging dart form the QB, or a blocked field goal, they had the answers when they were needed. Both of these teams have the talent to make some noise this season.