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Unbeaten Indians pitch shutout against 'Blazers

Jeff Birchfield • Sep 28, 2019 at 12:00 AM

GRAY — Dobyns-Bennett took advantage of four Daniel Boone fumbles in the first half to score a 38-0 nonconference football win Friday night at Nathan Hale Stadium.

Zane Whitson completed 9 of 20 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown, spreading the wealth by connecting with eight receivers. Tyler Tesnear rushed for 38 yards and three touchdowns, and Dalton Harkleroad opened up the second half with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

It was Harkleroad’s second kickoff return for a touchdown this season.

“That return was just straight wedge,” Harkleroad said. “Everybody was blocking and it opened right up. I saw it and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m taking this to the house.’ When I see it open up like that, it’s like eye candy and I know I’m gone.”

The Indians (5-0) extended their winning streak to seven games dating to last season.

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Both Harkleroad and Tribe coach Joey Christian gave credit to the guys up front for the big return.

“We told them all week I thought we had a chance in the return game against them,” Christian said. “The guys up front — Ethan Murray, Blake Collier and Fonzo Booker — did a great job on the middle three guys, knocking the guys they were supposed to and then our wedge did a tremendous job. Dalton takes it, makes one miss and it’s a track meet from there. He’s done a great job at that all year.”

By multiple accounts, the Trailblazers (1-4) were the most physical team D-B has faced this season. Brennan Blair had nine rushes for 55 yards, including a pass play that was a lateral behind the line of scrimmage and turned into a 24-yard gain. On the other side, Boone’s defense intercepted Whitson for the first time this season and held the Triibe’s top two running backs under 80 rushing yards.

“We played hard. Our kids had four turnovers in the first half and we couldn’t get off the field on third down,” Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “We had them third-and-8, third-and-10 and never got off the field. We said before the game if we got them in long-yardage situations, we have to get them off the field.

“I thought we got better on our defensive line, especially our interior guys. Zach Lawson, in particular, played better than he has. It’s a line-of-scrimmage game. Our next game is a conference game and we’ve got to go to Morristown East and come out with a victory somehow.”

FIRST-HALF TURNOVERS

The Indians recovered two early fumbles, the second in Boone territory. They took advantage with a 31-yard pass from Whitson to Cam Williamson that set up an 11-yard touchdown run by Tesnear for the game’s first score.

A third Boone fumble gave D-B the ball at the Boone 20. Two plays later, Whitson hit tight end Ben McCluskey for an 18-yard TD and a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Josh Romero intercepted a Jackson Jenkins pass to give the Indians good field position again. They tacked on another score when Jaden Alderson kicked a 22-yard field goal.

A pair of personal foul penalties on the Trailblazers proved costly near the end of the half. Whitson did an option pitch to Tesnear for a 2-yard touchdown run and a 24-0 halftime lead.

QUICK START TO SECOND HALF

After an hour lightning delay at halftime, Harkleroad opened up the third quarter with his 98-yard return.

D-B extended the lead on a 17-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in Tesnear’s 3-yard scoring run.

The Indians’ reserves piled up rushing yards in the fourth quarter. Joey Carter matched starting running back Phillip Armitage with 39 yards, and Hunter Minton tied Tesnear’s 38-yard total.

Boone quarterbacks Kaleb Worley and Jenkins finished with 50 passing yards. Phillip Page was Boone’s leading receiver with five catches for 34 yards.

WINNING FEELING

D-B linebacker Braxton Kulbacki was happy to see the Indians already surpass their win total from a year ago.

“It feels amazing. After the season last year, a season when I got hurt, it feels good to be winning games,” Kulbacki said. “Our defense, we have a really good front six and we have a good chemistry up front. We just want to keep it up.”

NEXT UP

Dobyns-Bennett travels to Jefferson County next Friday for a Region 1-6A matchup.

Daniel Boone meets Region 1-5A foe Morristown East.

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