The Blanchard Lions roared their way to victory in the Class 3A quarterfinals, earning a spot in the state semifinals for the first time since 1979, with a dominant 42-0 win over visiting Hilldale on Friday night.
"A great all-around effort on our kids' part," said Blanchard coach Jeff Craig after the win. "You can't talk about how well we played. We turned the ball over a lot, the first half. We made some mistakes which slowed us down a little bit but you know the resolve these guys have is just tremendous these last few weeks. They just turned it up a notch."
Blanchard began their solid play very early in the game. On Hilldale's opening drive, on third and 3 from their own 37 yard-line, quarterback Chandler Puckett was picked off by senior Kyle Self.
Following a false start, Lions quarterback Brock Lamle pump-faked, then threw a perfect deep ball to senior wideout, Zach Hill.
Hill, a 6-3, 205 pounder, had a highlight-filled night, finishing with five catches for 110 yards and a touchdown and rushing three times for 20 yards.
"He's just a big freak of nature that can go up and get any ball and it just makes it a lot easier to throw to him," said Lamle, who finished 15 of 22 for 226 yards and two touchdowns.
Lamle also ran for 34 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter which was the exclamation point on a stellar performance.
"Well, we were running an option play. So, I just saw the edge get sealed and nobody else was out there. So I decided to just get in the (end zone)."
With 2:41 left in the opening quarter, Braden Stringer scored his first rushing touchdown of the night.
Blanchard showed its eagerness to run the halfback pass early in the game. The Lions' second trick play try earned them their third touchdown of the night. Lamle handed off to Tanner Foster who threw across his body, finding Self for the score.
Hilldale struggled to find an offensive footing in a hostile environment. Their first, first down of the game didn't come until 8:53 of the third quarter. Puckett finished 4 of 16 for 29 yards and three interceptions.
Big plays were a big part of the Blanchard romp, none bigger than a 63-yard touchdown run by senior back Stephan Davis in the fourth quarter.
The win marks the first time since 1979, when the Lions won the championship, that Blanchard has made the state semifinals.
"I think it means a lot," Lamle said. "It's been a long time since a Blanchard team has made the semifinals and we're all really proud of our teammates."
As much as the offense was unstoppable, the Lions defense was unyielding, allowing just 117 yards of total offense and forcing four turnovers.
"Our defense has really played well the past couple of weeks," Craig said. "We're probably as healthy as we've been since about midseason and it's a good time to hit our stride. Our guys have just really honed in on what the other team does and our film study has been ratcheted up, our practice have been ratcheted up, the kids' attention has been ratcheted up … They're just really paying attention to every little detail that we can pick up of our opponent and they've applied that to game nights."