NEW PARIS — The National Trail football team won a home non-conference game, 48-0, its first victory of the season, over Jefferson on Friday night, Sept. 16.
The Blazers shut out the Broncos’ offense, and Trail rolled over the opposition’s defense throughout the contest.
“Things started off pretty well for us from the start,” said NT coach Randy Kerns.
“We established the running game to take advantage of our aggressiveness,” he said. “We eliminated mistakes that plagued us all season long and had no turnovers. I think we finally had a better overall attitude by the players that was missing from the first few weeks.”
The Blazers received the opening kickoff and went right down the field for an 11-play drive with a series of short gains. The drive was capped by senior quarterback Ben Sullivan who scored a touchdown for the Blazers.
When Jefferson had their first drive, the NT defense shut them down on a 3-on-out. Throughout the night, Jefferson had snap issues offensively. Their first miscue gave the Blazers good field position. The Blazers second drive finished with Jacob Heck scampering in for a 13-yard touchdown run. NT led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, National Trail’s defense got a safety on another bad Bronco snap. This gave Trail a 16-0 lead.
The rest of the second quarter saw the Blazers find their rhythm offensively. With bigger players to push the Jefferson players around, they were much more physical against the smaller opponents.
Minutes later, a seven-play drive was capitalized by a Tyler Glander 2-yard run for his first touchdown of the evening. With NT up 24-0, the home team didn’t let up, despite one drive going 3-and-out, but the defense continued to bail out any stalled drives by keeping Jefferson’s offense to a minimum and causing several drives to fail on either turnovers on downs or on 3-and-outs.
Later in the quarter, sophomore Evynn Short came in at quarterback, moving Sullivan, who plowed his way in for a 19-yard score later in the half, to fullback. The defense was able to hold a short Jefferson drive on downs, giving their offense one minute remaining in the half.
National Trail made the most of it, with Sullivan breaking free into open field for a 34-yard touchdown. Glander punched it in for a two point-after attempt run, for a 40-0 lead at the halftime break.
In the second half, a number of younger players played for the Blazers. Trail first started a drive inside the red zone but failed to score. But, with the game clock running nonstop, each team had roughly only a dozen plays per quarter.
The Blazers didn’t score their last touchdown until 3:40 in the fourth quarter, when Short hit Angel Garabito for a 10-yard touchdown pass. The two-point-after pass attempt from Short was successful and the score closed at 48-0 for the night.
“We had the running clock in the second half,” said Kerns. “Once that happened, the game went fast. At a certain point, what is the purpose of running up the score? We’ve been on the receiving end of blowouts, so we know how that feels.”
Sullivan had eight carries for 101 yards and three touchdowns. Glander had 118 yards on 19 carries and one score. Jacob Heck added 90 yards on nine rushes and a touchdown. Short went 3-for-4 passing for 35 yards and his first varsity touchdown pass.
Garabito was the lone receiver with a catch for a score. The Blazers had 11 total tackles for loss against Jefferson. Glander made two tackles for loss and, and two sacks, while Sullivan had three tackles for loss and two sacks. Kaleb Deardorff also had two sacks.
“We had much better practices, and it led to a much better performance by the team,” said Kerns. “We had some soul searching going on during the week. And I think we fixed those problems. The kids really went after their problems and gained confidence that was missing at the start of the season, and hope to build on that. I’ve been waiting for a breakout by this team and this time we didn’t turn the ball over and got the job done.”
National Trail is now 1-3 overall. The Blazers return to Cross County Conference play Friday, Sept. 23, with a road contest at Ansonia.
“Coach Eugene Hoening of Ansonia has been coaching for 3o-plus years,” said Kerns. “They may not be very big or fast, but they play hard. This will be a great environment for us, as Ansonia is looking for their first win this season.”
“Last year, we got up on them big but they made a scary comeback on us,” Kerns said. “Some of their losses this year were close losses. I thought we took control of them physically. We imposed our will on them physically in the run game. We were bigger, stronger and was able to shut down their speed. They were a spread, contrast in style to ours and tried to get the ball out quick but they couldn’t block us and I was pleased with our defensive effort.”
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH