Senior tailback Josh Blanks plowed his way to 104 yards on 18 attempts in carrying Tara to a 26-22 victory Friday night over Istrouma at Olympia Stadium.
The Trojans (3-5, 1-3 in District 6-4A) rebounded after suffering a close loss last week to Broadmoor, including losing starting tailback Tyrick Nelson to an injury.
Istrouma was led by quarterback Marquise Kaigler, who led the Indians (0-8, 0-5) with 295 yards of offense, including two scores through the air and one on the ground.
According to Tara coach Ron LeJeune, there are several areas the team needs to improve on despite the victory.
“There’s work we need to do,” LeJeune said. “We had some bad penalties that killed drives, and we didn’t tackle all that well on defense.”
It was Kaigler’s impressive scampers on the quarterback draw that caused havoc, rushing 10 times for 75 yards with one touchdown.
“He just does a great job at running that quarterback draw,” LeJeune said.
The Indians struck first when Istrouma’s Todd Mance pulled down a deflected pass and scampered 61 yards for the score, giving Istrouma a 6-0 lead.
Tara answered on the ensuing possession, putting together a 10-play, 78-yard drive capped by a 21-yard touchdown run by Jared Bryant to tie the score.
The Trojans then gained good field possession after a short punt, getting the ball at the Indians’ 38-yard line. Washington needed just one play, hitting receiver Jonathan Barrow for a 38-yard touchdown strike. After a failed two-point conversion, Tara led 12-6 with 10:31 before halftime.
After an 18-yard return by Istrouma’s Javaris Washington, aided by a block in the back against Tara, the Indians were setup with great field position at Trojans’ 22. Two plays later, following a facemask by Tara, Kaigler dashed up the gut for the score. After a successful swing pass to Ron Clark for the two-point conversion, Istrouma was within 20-14 at the 3:03 mark of the third quarter.
Blanks led the way on Tara’s next possession, starting the drive with a 17-yard scamper and following it up with an impressive 22-yard run. Three plays later, Washington put it in the end zone on a 2-yard dive. After the missed extra point, the Trojans led 26-14 with just over a minute left in the third.
Two possessions later, with the ball at the Trojans’ 42, Kaigler connected on a 22-yard pass to Whitfield and followed it up with a 20-yard strike to Clark for the score. Kaigler then added the two-point conversion on a quarterback draw as Tara lead 26-22 at the 6-minute mark, yet failed to convert on its following possession as Tara held on for the victory.
“We just need to regroup next week,” LeJeune said. “But a win’s a win, and we’ll definitely take it.”