By LARRY HYPES
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
TAZEWELL, Va. — Sometimes the pleasure is worth the pain.
Carter Rasnick, playing with a tooth broken in a pep rally, kicked five extra points, made seven tackles, and scored on a 35-yard pass from Malik Davis as part of Tazewell’s impressive 35-20 win over George Wythe Friday.
Sophomore runner Nick Blankenship was the ignition for the Bulldog engine as he rushed 19 times for 157 yards and a 65-yard second quarter touchdown, made six tackles, and blocked an extra point while battling leg cramps much of the night.
Smooth quarterback Davis was 4-for-4 passing good for 58 yards with scoring passes to Rasnick and a 22-yarder to Jesse Mountain, while adding 103 more rushing including touchdown runs of his own for one and 10 yards.
Tazewell (1-4) scored all five touchdowns in the first half and extended its home winning streak to three games dating back to last year, while the defending state champion Maroons (3-2) battled gamely but could not keep pace with the fired-up Bulldogs who were playing at home for the first time this year. “Our players executed the game plan perfectly,” said THS coach Shane Allen. “The defense stepped it up and we finally jumped in the backfield and made some tackles. We got some big turnovers and our offense was on fire in that first half. I’m proud of what we did here tonight. Now, it’s back to work Monday and get ready for next week.” Andrew Comer recovered a fumble at the George Wythe 24-yard line to set Tazewell up on the first play of the game before the Maroons forced a Bulldog punt. The Dog defense also held and Davis capped a four-play, 46-yard march with a 10-yard scoring run at the 5:52 mark of the opening period. Rasnick drilled the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
Trey Skeens, who paced Geroge Wythe with 20 carries overall for 146 yards, led a ferocious Maroon answering attack with a six-yard score at the other end and John Smith’s kick tied the tally at 7-all with 4:41 remaining.
Davis gained 85 yards rushing in the opening quarter and he was never better than on the next drive. The junior speedster had runs of 40 and 31 yards and then capped the stack with a one-yard dive for his second six-pointer. Rasnick made it 14-7 with his kick.
Skeens, and Monterick Phillips, who plunged over from 8 yards out with just :16 left in the frantic first frame, brought the never-say-die Maroons back again and Smith’s boot tied the score at 14-14.
Blankenship, much as a steel ball in a pinball machine, ran, twisted, turned and bounced off tacklers on the next series for a 65-yard score. Rasnick’s kick pushed THS ahead 21-14. Blankenship said, “Save the ink. Don’t use my name – just list my offensive line. They made it happen tonight. It was Andrew Comer, Andrew Collier, Alex Hayes, Garrett Jessee, and Austin Allison up front punching holes for me to run through. I just was not going down on that play until we got the touchdown.”
Chris Hall’s recovery of a muffed catch by the Maroons gave Tazewell another chance moments later. Davis and Blankenship moved the ball from the 43 to 35, where Davis lofted a pass to Rasnick, who deftly dashed right down the middle with his catch to score, sore tooth and all. He turned around, kicked the PAT, and the Dogs were up 28-14 at the 10:05 mark.
“We all came out to play hard,” he said. “We got a lead and we just had to finish. It’s always nice to score a touchdown but more important that we won. Now we know how.”
The final score of the opening half, with 1:30 on the clock, was a Davis to Jesse Mountain aerial goof for 22 yards. Mountain raced down the left side and got behind the defense. Mountain noted, “I knew that play would be a touchdown. Juwan (Jordan) set it up with a fake bubble on the play before and it worked great. All I had to do was catch it and Malik put it right on the money.” Rasnick again kicked the point after to push Tazewell to a 35-14 advantage.
Skeens scored the final points of the game when he punctuated an 11-play, 93-yard drive by the Maroons on a six-yard touchdown run. That came with 3:47 left in the game but Blankenship blocked Smith’s extra point attempt.
Jordan added two crucial interceptions in a big night back in the Bulldog secondary, Diante Cecil recorded a key sack and made several big defensive plays, and the overall THS defense played its best game to date.
Tazewell outgained George Wythe 316-311 in total yards, and had a 16-15 edge in first downs. Moore completed 8-of-11 passes for the Maroons for 103 yards in a good effort.
Tazewell hosts Marion on October 4 in the homecoming game.
At Bulldog Stadium
George Wythe......14 0 0 6 — 20
Tazewell...............14 21 0 0 — 35
T – Davis, 10 run (Rasnick kick)
G- Skeens, 6 run (Smith kick)
T – Davis, 1 run (Rasnick kick)
G – Phillips, 8 run (Smith kick)
T – Blankenship, 65 run (Rasnick kick)
T – Rasnick, 35 pass from Davis (Rasnick kick)
T – Mountain, 22 pass from Davis (Rasnick kick)
G- Skeens, 6 run (kick blocked)