NEW PARIS — National Trail’s football team earned its third victory in four games by defeating Mississinawa Valley 33-14, at home Friday, Oct. 9, for the Blazers’ homecoming.
The Blazers were able to survive a disastrous start to the third quarter as the Blackhawks scored a on a blocked punt, blocked another, and forced a fumble on Trail’s first three possessions in the second half.
National Trail took an early lead after running back Dom Huffman scored the opening points of the game on a seven yard run. A Ben Sullivan two-point conversion made the score 8-0, Blazers.
The teams traded punts for the reminder of the half until Trail quarterback Michael Bane found Sullivan on a 13-yard screen pass to put the home team up 14-0 with 1:35 left in the half.
Mississinawa Valley quickly went three and out and punted the ball back to the Blazers with just over a minute left in the half. With 19.5 seconds left, Bane found Huffman on a quick slant and he ran the ball the remaining 50 yards for a 58-yard score.
Bri Dillow’s extra point made the score 21-0 heading into the locker room at the break.
Early in the third, National Trail was punting from their own end zone when a bad snap allowed the Blackhawks to block the kick. Cameron Anguiano scooped the ball up and found the end zone after a short run. A two point conversion made the score 21-8.
Another blocked punt on National Trail’s next drive gave the Blackhawks good field position and on the first play of the possession quarterback Andrew Johns found J.J. Howard from 43 yards out for a quick score, cutting the lead to one possession with 5:47 left in the quarter.
Another Trail turnover put the Blackhawks back in the red zone, but the Blazer defense had its first of three red zone stands in the half, ending the Blackhawks drive.
Afterwards, head coach Randy Kerns said his team must find a way to get energy in the second half.
“They came out with a lot more energy in the third quarter — its been happening in our wins recently, struggling in third,” he said. “The fourth quarter we ended up coming back. I’m proud of the kids for staying strong in the fourth.”
Despite struggling to find consistency on offense and losing the battle for field position for the majority of the second half, the Blazer defense shut down the Blackhawks for the rest of the game.
The teams traded possessions until Sullivan busted the game open for the Blazers with a 23-yard run, increasing the lead to 27-14.
A Bane quarterback sneak ended the scoring with two minutes to play for the final of 33-14.
Sullivan and Huffman continue to be a dynamic backfield for the Blazers as the pair combined for four touchdowns on the game.
National Trail improves to 3-4 as it prepares to travel to Bethel on Friday, Oct. 16.
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @aschmidt_RH.