There was no comeback needed. There was no six-minute scoring spurt that proved to be the difference. Sixth-ranked Blackman simply put its foot on the gas Friday night.
The Blaze posted a 35-0 shutout of visiting District 7-AAA rival Riverdale at The Inferno with a strong mixture of all phases of the game helping out.
“The game plan was to play as a team through the whole four quarters,” Blackman quarterback Jauan Jennings said. “We’ve got to stop being a half team and start being a whole game team. We showed a little bit of what we can do, but we’ve still got a lot to improve.”
Blackman (3-0, 2-0) scored on the ground three times — on a Cole Notgrass 76-yard run in the first quarter, Jennings’ 1-yard run in the second and his 27-yard untouched run up the middle in the third. In between, Jennings added a 22-yard scoring pass to Styles Corder on the heels of a Ronnie Killings interception. And Killings followed with his a 65-yard punt return in the third quarter.
“We scored about every way you could … and I thought it was a complete performance by our team,” Blaze coach Philip Shadowens said.
But the Blaze defense was the story of the night.
Of the 20 non-punting offensive plays Riverdale ran in the first half, 10 of them were for zero or negative yards. The final tally was 16 of 41 non-punting plays were zero or negative gains as the Warriors were held to 64 yards of offense and converted 3-of-13 third downs.
“It was very hard,” Riverdale quarterback Marquel Odom said of getting the offense going. “We played a very good defense. We’ve still got a lot of work and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Riverdale (0-3, 0-2) reached its own 49 on its second possession, lost five yards on the next play and never passed its own 41 the rest of the way.
“All week we just focused on defense and we got the right mindset for the game and just came out and played,” Blackman defensive lineman Conner Krenk, who was in on a number of those zero or negative plays.
The sixth-ranked Blaze moved to 3-0 for the first time since 2001.
“It’s 1-0 to us. We don’t want to think about the past,” Krenk said. “It’s great, but we’ve got to get ready for Mt. Juliet next week.”
This is the first time the Warriors have opened a season 0-3 since 1987 when they dropped five straight. It also marked the first time Riverdale has been shut out since a 17-0 loss to Oak Ridge in the 2005 Class 5A semifinals.
“You’ve got to forget about things and come ready to bounce back,” Odom said. “We came in thinking we were going to get the win, but we played like we practiced. We didn’t practice that well this week.”
Blackman moved to 3-13 all-time in the series against Riverdale.