As Blackford (3-2) football players circled up in the corner of the end zone after a 40-35 loss to Alexandria-Monroe (4-1) Friday, eyes were aimed at the ground. By the time head coach Randy Sehy was done addressing the team, everyone had their head down. Before he broke the huddle, Sehy had one last thing to say: “Heads up.”
“With this senior class we’ve had, they’ve got high expectations of themselves,” Sehy said. “When something like this happens, you try and guard against kids letting down a little bit and thinking the season’s over just because we lost.”
Friday saw shades of last season’s matchup between the Bruins and Tigers at Ball State’s Scheumann Stadium. The teams combined for 122 points and 1,198 yards of total offense in Blackford’s 70-52 win in 2018.
While the scoring wasn’t nearly as high this time around, only four drives didn’t end in a touchdown.
“We knew we were going to come in and go back-to-back with them, and it was going to be a high-scoring game,” senior Isaac Justice said. “If we’d of just stopped them on defense, we would have been all good.”
The Bruin defense couldn’t seem to stop senior quarterback Rylan Metz. Of Alexandria’s six touchdowns, Metz threw five of them. He had seven in last year’s contest.
“He’s a pretty good QB. Let’s just say that,” Justice said. “I wish him good in his next game and the rest of the year, and we hope we can see him in sectionals so we can battle it out again.”
Metz also made plays with his feet, avoiding defenders and running out of trouble. Sehy said he hoped to contain him, but Metz had other plans.
“That was the difference of the game. We couldn’t contain him,” Sehy said. “If you don’t have a special athlete of your own at linebacker who can run him down, you’re going to struggle. We have what I think are good linebackers — They just don’t match the speed of him.”
There was a period where the momentum swung in the Bruins’ favor, and oddly enough, it was after they gave up a touchdown. Following an Alexandria touchdown to put the Tigers up 27-21, Justice blocked the extra point. Blackford marched down the field and into the end zone on its next drive to take its first lead of the game.
“That was big. Real big. I was loving it,” Justice said. “That jumpstarted the team, and we just went on from there.”
In the end, the outcome came down to which team could make a stop. Down 33-28, the Bruins went for it on fourth down on their first possession of the fourth quarter. They couldn’t convert, and Alexandria subsequently scored, leaving Blackford with eight minutes to make up a 12-point deficit.
The Bruins scored, but it was too little too late as the Tigers ran out the clock to escape with the victory.