WESTBROOK — It took Blackwell a little while to work out the kinks Friday when it faced Lueders-Avoca in a Six-Man, Division II bi-district playoff.
But then that wasn’t too surprising, since it was only the Hornets’ second game since Oct. 11.
Once the machine start-ed running smoothly, how-ever, it became unstoppa-ble as Blackwell overcame a slow start for a 70-26 win.
Down 14-6 early in the second quarter, Blackwell (10-1) outscored the Raiders 64-12 the rest of the way — decisively getting its first playoff win since the 1996 season, when the Hornets were 10-2 and advanced to the state quarterfinals.
“I hope it doesn’t take us that long to win another one,” said head coach Clint Lowry when told how long it had been since a playoff victory at Blackwell. “I don’t know if it was nerves or what, but after (the slow start) I thought we played extremely well.”
Blackwell — ranked No. 11 in Six-Man, Division II — now advances to play No. 3 Grandfalls-Royalty (10-1) in the area playoffs. Details were still being determined at press time on Saturday. Lueders-Avoca finishes its season with a 7-4 record.
After scoring on its first possession for a 6-0 lead, things went sour for the Hornets. Blackwell was poised for a two-score lead after a first-and-goal at the Raiders’ 9, but Lueders-Avoca held and a 64-yard run by Timothy Campbell tied it at 6. Campbell then put his team up 14-6 when he scored on a 50-yard run and kicked the extra point early in the second period.
After that, Blackwell took control. First came a seven-play scoring drive capped by Franck Cano’s 6-yard run. Cano’s 3-yard run on fourth-and-1 kept the chains moving prior to his TD, and Wade Allen’s kick tied it at 14. Matthew Lowry’s interception then led to the go-ahead score for Blackwell, which came on his 6-yard pass to Allen with 3:48 left in the first half.
Lueders-Avoca cut the lead to two, 22-20, when Campbell scored his third touchdown on a 5-yard run, but the extra point failed.
Blackwell made it 30-20 on Cano’s second TD run a short time later, this time on a 5-yard run. The defense held, giving Lowry time for a 34-yard TD pass to Allen with 23 seconds left. Allen’s kick made it 38-20 at halftime. “That gave us all the momentum in the world,” Allen said. “It was the biggest play of the game.”
“That was a big momen-tum shifter,” Matthew Lowry said of the TD, which completed a 32-point quarter for Blackwell. “We were super eager (to play) since we’d had three bye weeks, and we got it going in the second quarter.”
The lead kept growing after that. TD runs of 13 yards by Cano and 14 yards by Jayden Jones (226 yards rushing) made it 54-20 in the third quarter. The Hornets ended the damage with two more touchdowns in the final quarter while limiting Lueders-Avoca to a single second-half score.
“I thought our defense played as well as they have all year,” Clint Lowry said. “On offense we have been clicking, but tonight the defense also stepped up.”
Blackwell finished with 467 yards of offense.