DUBLIN — There may have been a record number of points on the West Bladen side of the scoreboard, a record number of smiles on the Knights’ sideline and almost an ice-cube shower for the head coach after West Bladen walloped Heidi Trask on Friday, 57-26.
“I heard the jingling coming up behind me, so I was able to side-step the ice,” West Bladen coach Russell Dove said.
The Knights went into the Four County Conference tilt in pursuit of three main goals: Stop No. 15 for the Titans, become playoff eligible for the first time in several years and win the homecoming game for the first time in a number of years.
Check, check and check.
The first quarter gave the impression that the game would be a shootout. The Knights lost a fumble right off and Trask took advantage with a quick touchdown at the 10:16 mark. The kick was missed, but the Titans led 6-0.
West Bladen answered with a 60-yard march in just four plays, finished by a 49-yard touchdown run from Nijeal Williams. Colby McLean’s kick was no good, but the Knights had knotted the score at 6-6 with 9:04 left in the first quarter.
Trask used just over 2 minutes to find the end zone and took a 12-6 advantage after the missed PAT.
Malcolm Vaught returned the ensuing kickoff 44 yards to the Trask 43, and West Bladen got a 20-yard run from Kesean Sutton before Trevor Lesane took the ball 27 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Colby Lewis ran in the two-point try and the Knights took the lead for good at 14-12 with 4:53 left in the quarter.
West Bladen gave up a fumble on its next possession, but Vaught got the ball back late in the first quarter with an interception deep in West Bladen territory. On the second play for the Knights, Lesane raced 74 yards for a touchdown, but a penalty brought the ball back. On the very next play, De’quan Lennon ran 84 yards for a score with 10:12 left in the half. Lewis hit Vaught with a pass for the two-point try and West Bladen’s lead grew to 22-12.
The Titans responded with a 64-yard drive and scored with 7:48 showing. The kick was good and the Titans had cut the deficit to 22-19.
It was as close as they would get, because the Knights went on to hang 35 unanswered points on the visitors.
The first of those points came with 6:29 left in the half when Sutton scored on a 34-yard run. Lewis found Vaught again fore the two-point try and West Bladen’s lead was 30-19.
Trask moved deep into the Knights’ territory before Stefan McDonald recovered a fumble at the West Bladen 17. From there, on the second play, Lennon went on an 87-yard run for a touchdown. Lewis ran in the conversion and the Knights led 36-19 with 4:07 left in the half.
Semorrick Jessup recovered a Trask fumble moments later and West Bladen engineered a 46-yard touchdown drive that culminated with a 44-yard scoring pass from Lewis to Vaught, who outfought the Trask defender for the ball. Lewis hit Sutton with the two-point conversion pass to give the Knights a 44-19 lead with 1:33 left in the half.
“I’m not real happy with the penalties or turnovers,” said Dove at halftime, “but I’ve got to be a little happy with the score.”
After stopping the Titans to open the second half, the Knights needed just one play to score on its first possession — a 53-yard run by Lewis. The PAT was blocked, but West Bladen’s lead ballooned to 50-19.
The teams traded punts before the Knights took advantage of a 16-yard Titans punt. Starting at the Trask 31, West Bladen got a 31-yard touchdown run by Vaught that featured a bowling over of three would-be tacklers halfway to the end zone. McLean’s kick was good and the Knights were up 57-19 with 1:54 left in the third quarter.
The Titans managed to put together a 70-yard, 10-play drive to score at the 7:09 mark of the fourth quarter. The point after was good and West Bladen’s lead was cut to 57-26.
West Bladen used nine plays to run out the clock.
“The defense really stepped up and coach Wade Pait made some great adjustments at halftime,” Dove said. “We tackled well and swarmed well.
“And the offense … what can I say?” he added. “We had some kids step up big-time and the offensive line really played great.”
Lennon led the Knights on the ground with 171 yards and two touchdowns on just two carries. Sutton had 69 yards on six carries, while Lewis had 62 yards on six carries. Vaught contributed 50 yards on four carries.
Through the air, Lewis was 1-for-3 for 44 yards, and Vaught had the lone reception for the 44-yard score.