Blackwell wins a thrilling showdown with Highland

Ron Howell
Sports Editor

HIGHLAND — The top two teams from District 7-1A, Division II engaged in a showdown Thursday that saw five lead changes and the outcome of the game in doubt until the final minute.
Highland once led by 12 points in the second quarter and again in the third.
But it was Blackwell who prevailed on a 6-yard pass from quarterback Brandon Brinkman to Joe Sanchez with 37 seconds left, which rallied the visiting Hornets to a 35-34 win at Highland — clinching the No. 1 seed from the district.
Blackwell, which ended the regular season 10-0 and 3-0 in 7-1A, D-II, will now face the second place team from 8-1A, D-II in the bi-district playoffs. Highland (7-3, 2-1) will face the first-place team in 8-1A, D-II.
For Sanchez, the winning touchdown catch was his only reception of the game.
Highland went up 34-29 after Richard Fomby threw a 19-yard TD pass to Nolan Montgomery with 1:18 left, but the lead lasted just 41 seconds. All three of High-land’s losses this season have been by six points or less while Blackwell, prior to Thursday’s contest, had won its previous games by 19 points or more.
Brinkman (5-of-14, 80 yards) and Michael Lowry each threw TD passes for Blackwell. Brinkman also scored on a 33-yard run that gave Blackwell a 29-28 lead in the fourth quarter and was the Hornets’ top rusher with 119 yards on 12 carries. Lowry completed a 66-yard pass to Hunter Clark for Blackwell’s first TD after Highland began the scoring with a 31-yard run by Eli Sauer.
Blackwell took its first lead, 8-6, on the PAT by Kyler Walls, but Highland scored on runs of 1 and 10 yards by Fomby in the second quarter and led 20-8 at intermission.
Highland still led 28-23 after the teams traded scores in the third quarter, scoring on Fomby’s 6-yard run and PAT. Blackwell cut it to 20-16 when Clark took the opening kickoff of the second half and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown and Walls kicked the PAT, and to 28-23 on a 4-yard run by Cameron Coldiron and Lowry’s pass to Cade McKee, then took the lead on Brinkman’s TD run.
For Blackwell, Clark had two catches for 77 yards; Orrin Sirmons caught three passes for 50 yards; Walls had one catch for 28 yards; Lowry had one catch for 9 yards; and Coldiron had one catch for 2 yards.
Lowry completed 2 of 4 passes for 75 yards, and Clark also completed a pass. Coldiron ran for 20 yards and Nathaniel Shipman 5.
Fomby ran for 110 yards, Sauer 50 and Montgomery 35, while Jacob Hamilton had 27 yards and Hayden Adams and Dakota Bowen ran for 4 and 2 yards, respectively. Montgomery had two catches for 29 yards and Hamilton had three catches for 14 yards. Montgomery was 5-of-11 passing and Fomby and Max Ferguson also completed passes.
Sanchez led Blackwell with 19 tackles. McKee had 17, Shipman 13, Clark 12, Brinkman 11 and Coldiron and Lowry seven. Highland was led by Bowen and Baily Garrett with five tackles; Dylan Phillips had 4.5 tackles; Adams had 3.5 tackles; Montgomery and Ferguson had 2.5 stops; and Fomby and Hamilton had one stop.