With a freeze warning forecast in effect, Blackman’s Blaze couldn’t generate enough offensive fire Friday night as the Pioneers came away with a 34-31 victory at Nunley Stadium.
It also could have been a case of “win one for the gipper” as the Pioneers were playing without team captain Kolin Roberts, who was injured and on reserve for the rest of the regular season, but might see action in the playoffs if everything goes well.
“Kolin Roberts is out for the rest of the season, so our rally is to get him and the rest of the team to the playoffs,” said Warren County High School rugby coach Jonathan Smith. “We kept playing our game and didn’t let their speed get in our heads and did the best that we could without our team captain and we all rallied around him.”
The Pioneers certainly didn’t let little distractions get them down, like Blackman scoring two trys and successful conversions for a 14-0 lead 11 minutes into the first half. Warren County controlled the games tempo at first, attacking the Blaze’s endzone twice before the speedy left wing of the Murfreesboro team went 80 yards for a try followed by a successful conversion, 7-0. Then the outside center passed back to the right wing for another try and conversion and the Pioneers were looking at a 14-0 deficit.
Blackman would find the goal line one more time before the half, but Warren County had come to life putting together a total team scoring drive where the Pioneers matched brute strength against the faster Blaze and at the break it was a much more palatable 19-15 Blackman lead.
After the half, the Pioneers kept their heads down and feet moving, burning up the turf and outscoring Blackman, 19-12, in second-half play. Knowing they had to get the ball into scoring territory, a long sideline run by Justin Bennett led to one more Pioneer try before the Blaze scored a try with two minutes remaining, 34-31, in favor of Warren County.
Scoring for the Pioneers were Kaleb Smith, Bennett, Robert Balderas, T.J. Boyd, Ethan Valdivia and Francisco Hernandez.
The Pioneers had a tournament day Saturday at Nunley Stadium for both the Pioneer and Lady Pioneer teams. Results were not available at press time.