Zane Whitson completed 9 of 20 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown. He spread the wealth by completing passes to eight different receivers. Tyler Tesnear rushed for 38 yards and three touchdowns, while Dalton Harkleroad opened up the second half with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
It was Harkleroad’s second kickoff return for a touchdown this season.
“That return was just straight wedge,” Harkleroad said. “Everybody was blocking and it opened right up. I saw it and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m taking this to the house.’ When I see it open up like that, it’s like eye candy and I know I’m gone.”
The Indians (5-0) extended their winning streak to seven games dating back to last season. Both Harkleroad and Dobyns-Bennett coach Joey Christian gave credit to the guys up front on the big return.
“We told them all week I thought we had a chance in the return game against them,” Christian said. “The guys up front — Ethan Murray, Blake Collier and Fonzo Booker — did a great job on the middle three guys, knocking the guys they were supposed to and then our wedge did a tremendous job. Dalton takes it, makes one miss and it’s a track meet from there. He’s done a great job at that all year.”
By multiple accounts, the Trailblazers (1-4) were the most physical team Dobyns-Bennett has faced this season. Brennan Blair ended nine rushes for 55 yards, including a pass play that was a lateral behind the line of scrimmage and turned into a 24-yard gain. On the other side, Boone’s defense intercepted Whitson for the first time this season and held the Indians’ top two running backs under 80 rushing yards.
“We played hard. Our kids had four turnovers in the first half and we couldn’t get off the field on third down,” Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “We had them 3rd-and-8, 3rd-and-10 and never got off the field. We said before the game if we got them in long-yardage situations, we have to get them off the field.
“I thought we got better on our defensive line, especially our interior guys. Zach Lawson in particular, played better than he has. It’s a line-of-scrimmage game. Our next game is a conference game and we’ve got to go to Morristown East and come out with a victory somehow.”
The Indians recovered two early fumbles, the second giving them the ball in Boone territory.
They took advantage with a 31-yard pass from Whitson to Cam Williamson, setting up an 11-yard touchdown run by Tesnear for the game’s first score.
A third Boone fumble gave the Indians the ball at the ’Blazer 20. Two plays later, Whitson hit tight end Ben McCluskey for an 18-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Josh Romero intercepted a Jackson Jenkins pass to give the Indians good field position again. They tacked on another score with a 22-yard field goal by Jaden Alderson and a 17-0 lead.
A pair of personal foul penalties on Daniel Boone proved costly near the end of the half. Whitson did an option pitch to Tesnear for a 2-yard touchdown run for a 24-0 halftime lead.
QUICK START TO SECOND HALF
After an hour lightning delay at the half, Harkleroad opened up the third quarter with his 98-return and a 31-0 Indians lead.
Dobyns-Bennett extended the lead with a 17-play, 80-yard drive culminating with a 3-yard touchdown run by Tesnear. The Indians’ reserves piled up rushing yards in the fourth quarter. Joey Carter matched starting running back Phillip Armitage with 39 yards, while Hunter Minton tied Tesnear’s 38-yard total.
The defense pitched the shutout as Boone quarterbacks Kaleb Worley and Jenkins ended with 50 passing yards. Phillip Page was Boone’s leading receiver with five catches for 34 yards. D-B linebacker Braxton Kulbacki was happy to see the Indians already surpass their win total from a year ago.
“It feels amazing. After the season last year, a season when I got hurt, it feels good to be winning games,” Kulbacki said. “Our defense, we have a really good front six and we have a good chemistry up front. We just want to keep it up.”
Dobyns-Bennett will travel to Jefferson County next Friday in a Region 1-6A matchup. As Coach Jenkins alluded to, Daniel Boone takes on Morristown East in Region 1-5A.