CAMBRIDGE – Timilty Middle School quarterback Khalil Blair’s speed overpowered Fredericks Middle School on Friday night at Harvard Stadium in the Play Ball! City championship game.
Blair, an eighth grader, ran for four touchdowns, threw for one and returned a punt 53 yards for another score as the Panthers overcame a 14-12 halftime deficit to win, 40-14.
“He’s a very talented athlete,” said Timilty coach Gary Smith. “Sometimes he’s the leader every coach needs to be on the field and make the difference.”
Before the City Championship was contested, the Dever-McCormack Panthers took down the Ohrenberger Owls, 36-14, in the Play Ball! Township championship game.
The Ohrenberger scored on its final drive of the first season, but the McCormack’s experience and size proved to be too much for the Ohernberger, which participated in its first football season this year.
After the Timilty took home the title in the nightcap, Blair didn’t take all of the credit himself, praising his teammates.
“Without them, I wouldn’t have done any of that," he said. "All of the blockers, they all block and that’s all I need them to do so I can do my job."
Both the Fredericks and Timilty defenses stopped any scoring in the first quarter. But Blair and the Tigers struck first.
The quarterback hit Mykel Dering in stride for a 56-yard touchdown pass that opened the scoring early in the second quarter, giving Timilty a 6-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later, the Fredericks quarterback Sayvoin Jones tossed a 34-yard pass that running back Erick Brown caught and ran into the end zone for the Fredericks’ first score. After rolling right, Jones found tight end Jordan Riggs on the 2-point conversion to give the Fredericks an 8-6 lead.
On the following possession, the Timilty was stuck on its five-yard line following a holding penalty. That’s when Blair rolled right and sprinted 95 yards down the sideline to electrify the Tigers fans.
Blair was unsure of whether the 95-yard dash was his longest run of the season, but it gave the Timilty a 12-8 lead.
With less than two minutes left in the first half, the Fredericks took the lead. Brown, who shares time with Jones at quarterback, found Stefan Jones on a 46-yard strike to give the Fredericks a first-and-goal from the four-yard line.
Brown ran the ball in from one-yard out to give the Fredericks a 14-12 lead at the interval.
But it was the last time the Fredericks would have an advantage on the scoreboard. The Timilty outscored the Fredericks, 28-0, in the second half as the Tigers’ defense stood strong the entire half, getting lots of pressure in the Fredericks’ backfield.
“Our defense is the key to our game,” Smith said. “No one’s ever scored all season more than two touchdowns on us, so when they got the 14, they realized that this is the key. We now get angry, we now get emotional, and we shut them down.”
Blair put on a show in the second half. Following a three-yard touchdown run, Blair returned a punt the distance to give the Timilty a 26-14 lead after three quarters.
The Timilty’s star player – who also starts at middle linebacker – added a pair of 13-yard touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to give the Timilty the city championship.
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