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Rebels pick off Blazers for first win

October 11, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

The Clear Spring Blazers found themselves in the wrong part of town.

It ended up being the corner of the world Zeke Ricketts occupied.

Ricketts picked off a Tyler Braithwaite pass and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown to break a scoreless tie at the 7:18 mark of the third quarter Monday to lift South Hagerstown to a 12-2 MVAL Antietam victory over Clear Spring.

"(Ricketts) was just doing what he was supposed to do," South Hagerstown coach Greg Kellick said. "We keep telling him we want him to be seven (yards) off the line. Today, he settled in seven-eight yards upfield and he happened to be in the right place."

It was more than fortunate for the Rebels (1-4, 1-2), who couldn't find much continuity on offense and spent most of the night on defense swatting flies as Braithwaite unloaded 36 passes.

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The whole game came down to field position. South pinned Clear Spring (1-4, 0-2) deep in its territory twice and the Blazers backed up the Rebels once. All three occasions resulted in scores.

"We had a couple of mental breakdowns," Clear Spring coach John Wilson said. "There was some rough field position, but we had a couple of mental breakdowns. That's the difference between being 2-3 and 1-4."

The Rebels did all they needed in a 5-minute, 40-second span of the third quarter.

It started as Clear Spring tried to work itself out of a hole on a drive that started at the 2 after a Ricketts punt. The Blazers got to the 5 before Braithwaite fired a pass across the middle that Ricketts stepped forward for and picked off for the 6-0 lead that gave the Rebels the momentum. It was the third of five interceptions Braithwaite suffered in the game.

"It was nice to win, but it was a battle tonight," Kellick said. "It was a struggle but you have to give them credit because they did the things to disrupt us."

South pinned Clear Spring again on the next possession with a long kickoff that put the Blazers in motion at the 8. After driving to the 30, Braithwaite threw his fourth interception out of punt formation to give the Rebels the ball at the Blazers' 43.

South used a 14-yard sweep by Mike Campbell and a 17-yard keeper by quarterback Marcelles Sumlin to get into scoring position. Two plays later, Derrick Hendershot went in from the 4 for a 12-0 lead with 1:43 left in the quarter.

Clear Spring's only points came after the Blazers punted and pinned South at its 4. Hendershot lost three yards on first down before Brock Jamison was tackled in the end zone by Clear Spring's Adam Penwell on a busted play for a safety with 10:38 remaining.

The Blazers put the ball in the air 60 percent of the time in the game, testing South's secondary.

The Rebels responded by intercepting two at the end zone and knocking down three others, including a bomb to J.R. Shields late in the game to preserve the lead.

"We had some good looks, but made the mental mistakes," Wilson said. "We weren't patient with the receivers in their patterns. It should have been 16-12, but a couple of things went wrong."

South withstood 15 completions and 168 yards passing by Braithwaite, while holding the Blazers to 30 yards rushing. Campbell finished with 93 yards and Hendershot had 87 more and the touchdown to pace the Rebels' 201 yard of total offense.

"We knew they were going to throw the ball," Kellick said. "We thought the kid was a good quarterback last year. He throws 40 and completes 16, and if he hits three long ones, it's 21 points. Any time you can put up a touchdown and get the ball back without them scoring, it's a good thing."

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