By Matthew Sawyer
MURFREESBORO — Independence grabbed a big win on the road Friday night, defeating Blackman 28-7.
Both teams are accustomed to tough non-region scheduling, and the clash fit the bill.
“At Independence we try to set a culture of ‘to be the best you have to beat the best’,” Eagles’ senior quarterback Jaxson Campbell said. “Blackman is similar to us in that way, and we knew they are one of the better teams and we had a great week of preparation and got after it today.”
“Starting out with a tough schedule definitely teaches you a lot,” Blackman senior signalcaller Drew Beam said after the Blaze fell to 1-3 with losses to Alcoa and Ravenwood prior to Friday. “We’ve figured out who we are, and what we need to work on. Playing these (non-region) games, yes you would like to win them, but they also teach you what you need to work on which is good going into conference play.”
Campbell continued with a Mr. Football-worthy season, tallying four more touchdowns to bring his season total to 12 in three games. In the win against Blackman, he threw for 180 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 85 yards and three TDs.
“We have changed the offense this year,” Campbell said. “Coach (Scott) Blade is a great coach and has changed it to some of my strengths, and we are able to go in the air to our big receivers and tight ends, and we are able to ground and pound a bit.”
Blade praised Campbell on the transition from receiver to quarterback.
“He’s getting more comfortable each week; he’s growing,” Blade said. “He’s definitely a dynamic player.”
After the game Campbell went looking for his offensive line, who dominated an experienced Blackman defensive line, to give his respect.
“My O-line did amazing,” Campbell said. “They (Blackman) have a really good defensive front, but our line just got after it. We set a standard and we know it is going to be a good game when I don’t get hit.”
Although his one score through the air was to Calvin Wilson, his most frequent target was Ty Lockwood, who had six grabs for 84 yards.
As for the Blaze, penalties and untimely turnovers plagued the team throughout the game. Blackman committed three turnovers, two of which were inside the Eagles’ 30. They also had huge pass interference and personal foul penalties.
“The defense is getting better. They’re flying around, playing at a high speed. They’re confident doing what we tell them to do,” Blade said. “They created some turnovers, and — like I said, they’re flying around. For an under-sized defense, that’s the only way to survive.”
Beam knows turnovers cost his team an opportunity to keep the game closer.
“The game could have been a lot closer if not for costly mistakes,” Beam said. “There were few untimely ones that just killed us. It’s another aspect of the game we need to clean up. Those personal foul penalties — the refs are always going to catch the guy who retaliates, so you just have to keep it to yourself.”
Blackman did, however, show ability to move the ball sans the untimely errors, especially Beam, who had a few big long-yardage scrambles to prolong drives, including setting up his 10-yard TD pass to Justin Brown.
Both teams jump back into region action next week. Independence travels to Franklin while Blackman plays host to Warren County.
SM-Tn Sports’ Matthew Holloway contributed to this report.
Independence 28, Blackman 7
At Bart Smith Field, Murfreesboro
I – 0 14 14 0 28
B – 0 0 0 7 7
I — Jaxson Campbell 2 run (9:48) Sam Henke kick
I — Campbell 17 run (3:31) Henke kick
I — Calvin Wilson 12 pass from Campbell (5:47) Henke kick
I — Campbell 29 run (3:01) Henke kick
B — Jeremy Wagner 10 pass from Drew Beam (4:28) Bryson Jones kick
First Downs 24 15
Rushes-Yards 33-174 24-130
Passing Yards 189 154
Com-Att-Int 15-30-1 16-24-1
Penalties-Yards 6-40 9-80
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-2
Independence — Jaxson Campbell 12-85, Tre Hartwell 9-55, Brice West 6-25, Ethan Pickering 2-5, Andrew Holloway 1-3, Hunter Howard 2-1, Raul Cruz 1-0
Blackman — Jaylyn Pleasant 13-58, Drew Beam 3-29, Andrew Hudson-Jackson 4-20, Aaron Green 3-12, Peyton Thomas 1-11
Independence — Jaxson Campbell 12-23-1-0 180, Hunter Howard 1-2-0-1 9, Drew Blalock 0-1-0-0 0, Casey Lynch 2-4-0-0 0
Blackman — Drew Beam 15-23-1-1 151, Ben Marshall 1-1-0-0 3
Independence — Ty Lockwood 6-84, Calvin Wilson 3-57, Brigham Morrical 1-23, Tyler Kondra 2-16, Josh Owens 1-9, Dawson Moore 2-0
Blackman — Todd Lark II 4-48, Jeremy Wagner 5-39, Alex Garrott 2-27, Ben Marshall 1-15, Mark Cooper 2-13, Jaylyn Pleasant 2-12