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Otis, Fair showcase powerful Governor backfield in opener

Devin Fair bolts through the Loudon defense for one of his two touchdowns on Friday. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Loudon – It’s only one game, but this is a very good William Blount football team.

Peyton Otis sheds a Redskin tackler on the way to another score.

The double-barreled backfield of Devin Fair and Peyton Otis rifled Loudon for five first-half touchdowns as the Governors won going away, 40-7, in the season opener from both teams Friday night.

Fair, whose 28-yard burst opened the scoring, finished with 133 yards in largely a half of play as William Blount scored on each of its first six possessions. The Governors didn’t punt for the first time until the second half. Fair’s second touchdown came on a bullish, 9-yard jaunt off left tackle.

Otis ripped the Redskins for touchdown runs of 35, 67 and 11 yards, complimenting Fair with 129 yards accumulated. The Governors rushed for 345 yards all told in Justin Ridge’s first game as William Blount coach.

“Their defense had a lot to do with it,” Otis said. “They didn’t have anybody over the middle. Once you passed the linebackers, it was off to the races.”

There was also the matter of an offensive line of Clark Jones, Zach Barton, Josh Stroud, Hunter Pack and Josh Perkins who dominated the Redskins up front.

“The offensive line just destroyed their defensive line,” Fair said.

Ridge told the Governors in the postgame huddle he’d just watched “one of the best halves of football” he’d ever seen from a William Blount team, and he was pretty much right.

Receiver Joel Graham cuts back agains the Loudon secondary.

First-year starter Reed Daniels was sharp for the Governors at quarterback, the tall, cool-headed junior passing for 156 yards and a 64-yard touchdown toss to Joel Graham.

Defensively, linebacker Cody Gregory set the tone for William Blount on Loudon’s first series, throwing the Redskin quarterback for an 8-yard loss to force a punt. The Governors limited Loudon to two first downs in the opening half.

The Redskins’ lone score came on a Tyler Ferguson 86-yard kickoff return after William Blount bolted to a 12-0 lead.

As the lead lengthened, big nights defensively from Brandon Tipton, Dustin Carver and Derek Delaney never allowed Loudon to make up any ground with the passing game.

Tyler Strickland had a fourth-quarter interception near the Governor goal line to deny the Loudon offense its best opportunity to score, returning the pick 53 yards.

An interior defense paced Michael Travis, Robert Fann, Grant Gentry and Otis limited the Redskin ground game to 30 yards rushing in the half until William Blount had gouged Loudon for the 40-7 lead.

Five plays into William Blount’s first possession, Fair raced untouched up the middle of the field for a 6-0 advantage with eight minutes left in the opening quarter. The protection broke down on Andrew Curtis’ extra point kick. Otis made it 12-0 Governors with four minutes to play in the period on a slashing run off right guard.

Loudon rallied briefly when Ferguson retuned the ensuing kickoff down the home sideline to cut the deficit to 12-7 with still four minutes to play in the first quarter. There’d be no letdown from William Blount, though.

Tim Albright tackles the Loudon quarterback.

Otis struck again three plays into the following series, the margin opening to 19-7. The muscled Governor back added a third score for a 26-7 lead soon after. When Fair put a fifth rushing score in the Redskins with just under six minutes to play in the half, William Blount wasted no time in following with the finishing blow when next it had the ball.

The five scores by Otis and Fair had each come on the same play.

“We hit them with a little trap play up the middle,” Ridge said. “I think our offensive line made their mark tonight.”

When Loudon finally adjusted defensively, Daniels hit Graham with a perfect, in-stride, over-the-shoulder strike to end all doubt.

“Coach told me right before we’d been setting up the play with the runs,” Graham said. “It worked.”

“That’s always been my philosophy,” Ridge said. “You go with who’s hot. When they started to creep up a little, we took our shots.”

William Blount next hosts Morristown East in the home opener on Friday.

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