Friday, Nov. 20, 2009
Trailblazers rout Aquinas, gain 5A title berth
By DANNY STOOKSBURY
Special to The Olathe News
Gardner Edgerton junior quarterback Bubba Starling had a big night during Friday's Kansas 5A state semifinal with St. Thomas Aquinas, leading the Trailblazers on seven scoring drives and keying a 49-7 rout.
“It means so much to win this game, because we're going to a state championship game,” Gardner Edgerton coach Marvin Diener said. “We have been talking about playing (for a state title) all season. This was a nice win against a good opponent, but we have one more game to go.”
Friday's showdown wasn't a competitive contest for very long. Aquinas entered the game emotional and determined to avenge its 28-26 loss to Gardner Edgerton less than a month ago. The Saints, 10-2, took a 7-0 lead with an 8-yard touchdown by Dagan Reed on their opening drive.
Starling led the Trailblazers, 12-0, into scoring position on their first possession, but an interception by Aquinas defensive back Mike Armentrout in the end zone ended the threat.
Fortunately for Starling, the Gardner Edgerton defense stopped Aquinas' next drive before it could get started and returned the ball to the Trailblazers' offense near midfield.
Again, Starling drove Gardner Edgerton into scoring position, but this time he wasn't taking any chances. Starling raced through the Saints' defense on an 11-yard run and dive in the closing minute of the first quarter.
“We didn't start out good,” Starling said. “Once we scored, we wanted to put it to them.”
That's just what they did as the Trailblazers began building a sizable lead in the second quarter.
A 9-yard touchdown by Justice Berry gave Gardner Edgerton their first lead of the game, a 13-7 advantage following a missed PAT attempt.
Starling and Berry then connected for a 72-yard miracle in the final minute of the first half. Berry collected a deflected pass and took it to the end zone, giving the Trailblazers a decisive lead entering halftime.
“Those are the kind of plays that put in you the state championship game,” Diener said. “Our kids had a chance to make those kinds of plays and they made them.”
Gardner Edgerton pulled away in the fourth quarter, putting the game out of reach with a 17-play drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Starling. That drive consumed 8 minutes, 31 seconds of the third quarter and broke the back of the Saints' defense.
Gardner Edgerton added a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs by Ryan Weber and a 2-yard touchdown dive by Brett Jensen to ice the game and secure a trip to the state title game.
“We wanted to come out here and prove something,” Starling said. “I think that's what we did, 49-7. We're a championship team, that's what I'm thinking.”
Aquinas, which handed Gardner Edgerton its only two losses last season, suffered its only two defeats against the Trailblazers this season.
Kansas 5A sub-state playoffs
GARDNER EDGERTON 49, ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 7
GE (12-0) 7 14 14 14 — 49
STA (10-2) 7 0 0 0 — 7
STA: Dagan Reed 8 run (Brendan Nachbar kick)
GE: Bubba Starling 11 run (Chase Lee kick)
GE: Justice Berry 9 run (kick failed)
GE: Berry 72 pass from Starling (Alex Knorr pass from Starling)
GE: Starling 1 run (Lee kick)
GE: Ryan Weber 1 run (Lee kick)
GE: Weber 1 run (Lee kick)
GE: Brett Jensen 2 run (Lee kick)