Blackman left Nunley Stadium in a blaze of glory after a 49-14 win over the Pioneers in the final home game of the 2015 season. It was an emotional night for the 10 Pioneer seniors who celebrated their final game in McMinnville.
The Pioneers gained 234 total yards versus one of the most violent defenses in high school football, according to WCHS head coach Tom Moore. On the ground, the Pioneers pounded out 198 yards led by senior RB Rickie King. He broke the century mark on the ground, carrying 22 times for 124 yards.
The passing game suffered early on against a well-disciplined Blaze defense. Isaiah Grayson went to the air and completed 4-of-9 passes and threw three interceptions. Grayson’s longest pass was completed to McCall Turner for a 16-yard gain and a Pioneer first down.
Coach Moore said, “I feel like we won the second half and that is something we will carry over. Tonight was a challenge for Grayson and we let him take shots down field in the first half.”
Warren County has played against many of the very best teams in the Midstate this year and Blackman was no different. The Pioneers were stifled by the Blaze in the first half as Blackman controlled the game on both sides of the ball.
The Pioneers gained momentum on the opening drive of the second half. A 44-yard drive was highlighted by a reverse from Rickie King to Kolin Roberts that caught the Blaze defense napping. Roberts raced down the sidelines 28 yards before he was brought down from behind.
The Blaze defense woke up in time to force Warren County to turn the ball over on downs after the Pioneers came up short on fourth-and-11.
Warren County took possession just before the start of the fourth quarter. The Pioneers picked up three consecutive first downs. Back-to-back 12-yard runs by King, and a Grayson pass to Mitchell Stembridge kept the chains moving in the right direction.
The drive paid off when Grayson tucked the ball on third-and-3 from the 8-yard line and bounced off tacklers for the Pioneers’ first score. Jakob Morin added the extra point and Warren County trailed 42-7.
Warren County attempted an onside kick and was hit with a flag and called for a personal foul. Blackman started first-and-10 from the Pioneer 44-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Master Teague exploded through the defense and bolted 44 yards for the final Blaze touchdown. After the PAT was added, Blackman led 49-7.
With 5:35 to play, Warren County returned the kick out to the 29-yard line. Warren County moved the chains to the 38-yard line and on third-and-1 King broke free and picked up 25 yards before he was brought down.
Bonner and King were on a mission and attacked the Blaze defense. The duo combined for the final 35 yards and Bonner punched it in from the 2-yard line for the final score of the game.
Pioneer RB Jordan Bonner said, “It felt amazing to score a touchdown in my last game. I love these guys and I have enjoyed being a Pioneer over the last four years. It’s amazing.”
A dismal first half of offense by the Pioneers led to an explosive first half from Blackman. The Blaze scorched the Nunley Stadium field for 330 total yards, most of which came in the first half. The Blaze star running back, Taeler Dowdy, collected 130 yards on 13 carries and three touchdowns.
Amari Burks and Master Teague each scored a touchdown from the Blackman backfield. Joeseph Sewell caught two TDs, one from 15 yards out and the other from 21 yards.
Coach Moore said, “We did not give up in the second half and I am proud of their effort against a really good football team.”
Warren County finished the regular season at 1-9. The Pioneers are scheduled to play Maryville, which boasts an overall record of 10-0, in a first-round playoff game to be played in Maryville this Friday.
Maryville captured its 15th TSSAA State Title against Ravenwood in 2014. It will be the toughest challenge to date for the Pioneers.