Blaze, Patriots in pivotal game

Blaze, Patriots in pivotal game

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Blaze, Patriots in pivotal game

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MURFREESBORO

Blackman and Oakland share a common goal tonight.

They both are in need of a win to get back in the District 7-AAA race.

The two meet at 7 p.m. today (WUXP, Ch. 30) at Oakland’s Patriot Field. It marks the first home game for the Patriots, who have just four at Patriot Field this season.

Blackman (3-1, 0-1) fell to fourth-ranked Siegel (4-0, 1-0) 42-7 in its first 7-AAA game. La Vergne (1-3, 1-0) upset Oakland (2-2, 0-1) 24-21 in the Patriots’ first league game.

“I think it’s really important because we need a win period,” Blackman coach Philip Shadowens said. “Our goal is to get into the playoffs. Whether this is a district or non-district game we want to win because you don’t want your second loss this early.

“But if you have aspirations of winning the district you can’t lose two in this league.”

Blackman jumped back on track after the loss to the Stars with a 41-10 rout of Signal Mountain. The Blaze rolled up 392 yards of offense — their highest output of the season — against the Class 4A team. That included 258 yards on the ground.

Shadowens was pleased with his team’s defensive effort at Signal Mountain. The defense didn’t allow a touchdown until late. Signal Mountain had just 281 total yards in the loss.

“We played very well defensively,” Shadowens said. “We were very physical.”

That play will have to continue against the Patriots, who are led by dual-threat quarterback Emmanuel Smith. Smith is averaging 74.3 passing yards a game along with 76.3 rushing yards a game.

Kyle Oliver, a 6-foot-4 sophomore receiver, has been Smith’s favorite target. Oliver averages 42.8 receiving yards a game.

“I think it starts with Emmanuel,” Shadowens said. “They have numerous tailbacks and fullbacks that are very capable runners and catchers. He can throw the football. He can run the football and is a talented runner.

Running backs Darryle Hood Jr. and Eric Abernathy combined for 157 yards on 17 carries in the Patriots’ 44-14 win over Gallatin. They have helped pick up for the losses of Fred Wade and reduced role of Travon Willis. Wade tore his ACL before the season and had surgery to repair the injury this past week. Willis has been slowed because of a high ankle sprain sustained during the loss to La Vergne.

But Smith’s added role could grow.

“We feel like we have three capable guys,” Oakland coach Thomas McDaniel said. “Travon is still a game-time decision. He does look like he’s feeling better. But first and foremost it’s time for him to start playing on defence.”

Smith’s added role as a rusher came after the loss to La Vergne. McDaniel said the staff discussed Smith’s role and decided that he needed more touches. He’s also playing a limited role at receiver when backup Rhett Stacey is at quarterback.

“We don’t know how many touches he needs to get, but we know it’s not six,” McDaniel said. “The more he runs, the more active he is. He has a lot of roles for us.”

Blackman has ran the football by committee this season with Dee Mathers (66.8 rushing ypg), Cole Notgrass (60.8 rushing ypg) and Antonio Allen (41 rushing ypg). In the air, quarterback Chase Smotherman was 5 of 11 passing for 134 yards and two TDS a week ago.

“All of (their running backs) bring something different to the table,” McDaniel said. “Allen is a physical runner. Both of the their tailbacks are hard runners.”

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