NEWPORT—No Charlie Cole? No problem for Daniel Boone.
With their prized tailback still sidelined, backup Brennan Blair showed he was every bit made for the starring role, as he ran for 226 yards and a touchdown on just 19 carries in a 30-13 win over Cocke County at Larry Williams Stadium on Friday night.
Blair’s first half effort, which saw him eclipse the 150-yard plateau, was a big part in the Trailblazers building a 24-0 lead at the intermission and keeping pace for a second place finish in Region 1-5A.
With David Crockett’s loss to Tennessee High, the Trailblazers and Pioneers will hook up in the Musket Bowl next week with a second place finish in the region and an opening round home playoff bid on the line.
Cocke County was officially eliminated from postseason contention with the loss.
Daniel Boone, which has won three straight games despite the absence of Cole, staked itself to a 13-0 lead after its first two possessions. The ground game was the Trailblazers’ speciality on the 70 and 76 yard scoring drives, as Blair did most of the heavy lifting in staking his team to a 13-0 lead in the game’s first 10 minutes.
“We knew they’d come out and be physical and run right at us,” Cocke County first-year coach Scotty Dykes said. “It’s nothing that we didn’t expect. Unfortunately we weren’t up to the task to slow them up.”
Most the Blazers’ (4-4, 3-1 Region 1-5A) early damage came via that punishing ground game, as Cocke County (1-7, 0-4) showed little resistance on the defensive side of the ball in spotting the early 13-0 lead to its region rival.
Both scoring drives took less than three minutes off the clock, as Boone pounded the ball down field.
Missed tackles played a part in the early success for the Blazers, as initial short gains turned into first downs to move the chains, before fans really got settled into their seats.
“We had so many missed tackles,” Dykes said. “So many times it was a one-yard loss or a one-yard gain that turned into a 10 to 15 yard gain. It was continuous. It’s one of those deals that’s tough to explain.”
While Cocke County stemmed the tide momentarily, its inability to finish a drive allowed the Trailblazers to put the game away before halftime.
Daniel Boone scored a touchdown on a 44-yard strike from Jackson Jenkins to Phillip Page with 4:35 to play in the second period.
Following an interception, Daniel Boone executed its two-minute offense and capped off the drive with a 25-yard field goal by Jacob Jenkins with 90 seconds left in the half to build the 24-0 lead.
Cocke County did come out of the half and drove into Trailblazers territory, but came up empty handed after not being able to finish the drive.
“The kids wanted to come out and show effort and heart. They’ve not laid down all season. They continue to move in the right direction,” Dykes said. “I would have liked to see us make those plays out of halftime and make it 24-7, but unfortunately tonight wasn’t our night.”
Although Boone increased its lead to 30-0 midway through the third period on a 4-yard pass from Jenkins to Page, Cocke County’s offense bucked its first half performance of just over 60 yards to move the football up and down the field.
However the Big Red didn’t punch into the end zone until John Norton’s 24-yard touchdown scamper with 8:08 left in the game that cut the deficit to 30-6.
“We were in their red zone three other times tonight and came away with nothing,” Dykes said. “We’re still trying to figure things out offensively, but we’re at the end of the season and we should have those things figured out and execute better. ”We’ll keep preaching those things and try to execute and go get to wins to end the season with.”
Cocke County backup quarterback Keaston Jackson’s engineered a late scoring drive, running the ball in from 2 yards out with 34 seconds left in the game to cut the final to 30-13.
“There was some positive things to take out of the game,” Dykes said. “I hate to talk about moral victories. It’s time to figure some things out and get an actual victory.”
Cocke County travels to Morristown East next Friday for a matchup with the Hurricanes and its former head coach, Caleb Slover.