THOMPSON’S STATION— Talk about a statement win.
Independence took advantage of two early forced fumbles and turned them into points and momentum en route to a 49-13 thrashing of visiting Blackman on Friday night.
Blackman (1-3) opened the game with a six-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a 48-yard touchdown toss from quarterback Drew Beam to Todd Lark. The Blaze students chanted, "That was easy" — but it would be the only time their team's offense found the end zone until the game's final play.
Indy (3-1) retaliated with its own five-play drive, avoiding an early catastrophe when Jaxson Campbell fumbled after catching a pass from Ethan Cash as a teammate recovered. Four plays later, Cash scored from 6 yards out.
Then the defense took over.
The Eagles forced Beam to fumble on consecutive possessions, converting both into touchdowns. Cash and Chayce Bishop would hook up five times in the game for TDs, including three in the opening period. Bishop finished with 212 receiving yards on 10 catches.
Cash said after the game having Bishop to throw to makes his job a lot easier.
"Having (Bishop) gives me confidence because I know if I throw it at him, he's going to go get the ball," Cash said. "If not for the (offensive) line tonight, it wouldn't have been as easy, but they kept me clean, too."
Indy coach Scott Blade said the plan going into the game was to exploit the Blaze's aggressive defense, and they did that.
"Our kids play extremely well tonight. We had a game plan and we executed," Blade said, almost cracking a smile. "I'm really proud of our kids and our coaches who worked their tails off this week to get prepared."
Bishop was ready each time he saw press coverage from the defense.
"I'm licking my chops when I see 'press' coverage because I know I'm going to win that most of the time. (Cash) and the offensive line were the real deal tonight, and we couldn't have done this without them," he said.
Playing from behind while in a primarily run-first offense is not ideal. Trailing 35-7 at halftime, Blackman coach Kit Hartsfield said his team needed to gain momentum, but could not.
"We can come from behind when we're playing well, but we just weren't able to get the momentum back," he said. "Credit Independence for playing as well as they did."
Indy's offense came out of the locker rooms and picked up where it left off, with yet another Cash-to-Bishop touchdown strike, forcing a running clock in the game. An interception by Campbell on the ensuing drive all but ended any hope the Blaze had for making a comeback.
"You can't have fumbles and extend drives with pass interference calls and mistakes and expect to win," Hartsfield said.
The Eagles scored 49 consecutive points, the last touchdown coming from Ethan Pickering on a 49-yard scamper with under a minute to go in the game. Blackman's final play of the game was a touchdown pass from Beam to Malachi Burns as most of the Eagles defense watched time expire.
Independence 49, Blackman 13
At Eagles Stadium
BHS - 7 0 0 6 13
IHS - 28 7 7 7 49
B — Todd Lark 48 pass from Drew Beam (9:51), Tripp Holloway kick
I — Ethan Cash 6 run (8:27), Sam Henke kick
I — Chayce Bishop 6 pass from Cash (6:44), Henke kick
I — Bishop 16 pass from Cash (4:01), Henke kick
I — Bishop 65 pass from Cash (1:33), Henke kick
I — Bishop 33 pass from Cash (0:29), Henke kick
I — Bishop 5 pass from Cash (10:09), Henke kick
I — Ethan Pickering 49 run (1:16) Henke kick
B — Malachi Burns 32 pass from Beam (0:00) no attempt
First Downs B-10 I-17
Rushes-Yards 29-17 17-52
Passing Yards 218 323
Comps-Atts-Ints 10-17-1 21-33-0
Penalties-yards 9-75 5-50
Fumbles-lost 2-2 3-0
Blackman — Keionte Newson 13-17, Tytus Reach-Kirby 2-17, Antonio Malone 2-10, Andrew Hudson-Jackson 4-8, Kendall Storay 1-3, Dejeun Gibson 2-(-7), Drew Beam 5-(-31)
Independence — Ethan Pickering 1-49, Jack Phillips 7-27, Jaxson Campbell 1-(-4), Ethan Cash 8-(-20)
Blackman — Drew Beam 10-17-2-1 218
Independence — Ethan Cash 21-33-5-0 323
Blackman — Malachi Burns 4-99, Todd Lark 3-64, Emilio Martin 3-55
Independence — Chayce Bishop 10-212, Jaxson Campbell 6-68, Brian Pierce 4-36, Brigham Morrical 1-7