WARMINSTER >> Archbishop Wood senior Raheem Blackshear is the kind of player that can change a game any time he has the ball.
That’s why the Temple-bound athlete lines up everywhere – all over the place on offense, in the secondary on defense and as a returner – so he can maximize his chances. While most of his highlight plays come on the offensive side or running a kick back, Blackshear can do some things on defense.
Case in point was his game-changing 89-yard interception return for a touchdown Friday night that sparked Wood to a 37-21 win over Roman Catholic at William Tennent.
“That sparked the flames and made us get back on track,” Blackshear said. “Our quarterback started playing great after, so it was a big win. We got a lot of motivation off that play, so it just built our confidence right up.”
It’s Week 5 but the Vikings only just recorded their first win of the season. After falling to New Jersey power Bergen Catholic in Week 2 and then dropping a nationally televised game with St. Joe’s Prep last week, the result was sorely needed.
Wood wasn’t losing confidence, but it helps a lot more when the effort put forth on the field leads to victories. Blackshear, who finished with 20 rushing yards and 133 receiving yards on five catches, wasn’t the only threat. A lot of guys chipped in a lot of places and it ended with a needed outcome.
“It raises our confidence a lot,” senior running back/linebacker Shawn Thompson said. “It brings us closer together. We’re all going to depend on each other more often now and we’re going to be a tighter group from it.”
The Vikings’ defense was amped up from the start, putting a lot of pressure on Cahilites QB Anthony Butler. Lineman Tyler Smith had a third down sack on each of Roman’s two first drives to force a punt while Nasir Peoples and Bill Cook also had sacks.
Both Thompson and tight end/defensive lineman Kyle Pitts felt the pressure was a factor in the pick-six. Getting there saw Wood take the opening drive to the end zone on a 26-yard pass from Jack Colyar to Mark Webb then a 35-yard field goal from Dan Zanine 10 seconds into the second quarter.
“We needed to stop our turnovers and we got that job done mostly,” Pitts said. “It was big (to score first). It raised our confidence after two losses so it was really good to see.”
Just as it seemed Roman was settling into the game and moving the ball, Blackshear read a deep ball by Butler, picking it off at the 11, getting up field, making a cut and took off to put Wood up 17-0.
Given that Roman came right back down and scored, the return score was crucial to Wood keeping a 17-7 lead at the half.
“It was a game-changer, it got us even more into the game and we knew we controlled our own destiny at the end of this game,” Thompson said.
After Peoples’ sack forced a punt on the first Roman possession of the second half, the Vikings got two big passing plays. The first was a 25-yard connection between Webb and Colyar then the next play saw Colyar swing one out to Blackshear and the senior did the rest.
Getting a couple good blocks, Blackshear hit the edge was gone down the right sideline 61 yards for the score.
“I had great blocks from Kyle Pitts and Jalen Reynolds,” Blackshear said. “The credit goes to my teammates and I appreciate them a lot for doing that. We have a lot of speed on the outside, a lot of new faces but everything is going good.”
Blackshear also added a 6-yard TD run with 1:22 left in the third quarter for a three-score night. Roman got within 30-14 on a 10-yard pass from Butler to Joey Bristow with 4:49 left in the game. Wood answered immediately when Chris Blackstone ran in from 34 yards out, icing the game away even after a late fumble led to a second score from Butler to Bristow with 46 seconds left.
Wood didn’t have its usual rushing numbers on the night, but the team’s run game helped set up its passing plays. Thompson, who led the charge with 53 yards on the ground, didn’t care about the amount, just that the yards helped get his team into the win column.
“The yards we were getting set up our passing,” Thompson said. “We don’t have to rush for 300 or 400 yards, we can keep teams honest by going both ways.”
The first hurdle has been cleared and Wood is in the win column. As it is every season, the team’s goal is a state title and that’s still very much in reach. With Archbishop Ryan up next, the Vikings will just need to keep getting better and building off the things they did against Roman.
“We can take our play tonight,” Pitts said. “Everybody played hard and everybody played up to par.”
Roman Catholic 0 7 0 14 – 21
Archbishop Wood 7 10 13 7 – 37
AW – Mark Webb 26 pass from Jack Colyar (Dan Zanine kick) 8:39
AW – Zanine 35 FG 11:50
AW- Raheem Blackshear 89 Interception return (Zanine kick) 8:52
RC – Miles McLeod 2 run (kick good) 2:33
AW – Blackshear 61 pass from Colyar (Zanine kick) 7:03
AW – Blackshear 6 run (Kick fail) 1:22
RC – Joey Bristow 10 pass from Anthony Butler (kick good) 4:49
AW – Chris Blackstone 34 run (Bob Henessey kick) 3:52
RC – Bristow 13 pass from Butler (kick good) 46.0
1st Downs 10 14
Rushes-Yards 32-72 25-130
Passing 10-18-2-1 10-17-2-1
Passing Yards 180 262
Total Yards 252 392
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 3-1
Penalties-Yards 8-60 7-45
Punting 6-27.5 1-27
Rushing: RC- Miles McLeod 14-72, AJ Gaymon 1-1, Anthony Butler 9-(-25), Marquise Cooper 5-4, Jordan Haynes 3-20; AW –Raheem Blackshear 5-20, Shawn Thompson 9-53, Jack Colyar 1-(-7), George Mazzacano 2-12, Nasir Peoples 2-2, Chris Blackstone 4-40, Eric Bauer 2-16
Passing: RC- Butler 10-18-2-1-180; AW – Colyar 10-17-2-1-262
Receiving: RC- Joey Bristow 4-61, Jordan Haynes 5-80, Cooper 1-39; AW – Mark Webb 3-72, Kyle Pitts 2-57, Blackshear 5-133
Interceptions: RC – Shane Flaherty; AW – Raheem Blackshear