Southeast's Blanfort finds end zone for first time in career

Sunday, October 11, 2009
Southeast defender Bryan Blanfort, right, forces a fumble from Austin Peay running back Ryan White during Saturday's game at Houck Stadium. (Kit Doyle)

Since it came during a loss, Bryan Blanfort hardly was in the mood to celebrate.

But Southeast Missouri State's junior free safety acknowledged that it was fairly sweet to finally score a touchdown.

Not just a college touchdown, but a touchdown on any level.

"That's the first one in my life," Blanfort said.

Blanfort's 69-yard interception return Saturday against Austin Peay gave Southeast a 14-3 lead in the third quarter, but the Govs rallied to win 24-14.

Austin Peay had a nice drive going inside Southeast's 40-yard line when quarterback Jake Ryan's pass was tipped near the line of scrimmage by junior defensive end Damian Smith.

The ball bounced high in the air and right to Blanfort, who raced 69 yards to the end zone.

"We had great pressure from our D-line and I got a real good read on it," Blanfort said. "The ball came to me and I got good blocking. They made it easy for me [to score]."

Blanfort, a native of Miami, played wide receiver as well as defense in high school, which made it surprising that he never had scored a touchdown.

"That's just the way it worked out," he said.

Blanfort never even got a chance at a touchdown in youth football because he said he didn't pick up the sport until his junior year of high school.

Blanfort, who had three interceptions last year, picked off his first pass of this season against Austin Peay. He is putting together a solid campaign, ranking second on the team with 48 tackles after getting 10 on Saturday.

Following a loss at Tennessee-Martin on Sept. 26 in which Blanfort had 14 tackles while forcing a fumble and breaking up a pass, he was named Ohio Valley Conference defensive player of the week.

"He's turned out to be a good player for us," Southeast coach Tony Samuel said.

But Blanfort said he would trade individual achievements for team success. Southeast (1-5) suffered its fifth straight loss.

"We're upset, but nobody's giving up," Blanfort said.

That was the sentiment expressed by many of the Redhawks.

"We're a team. We're all in this together -- offense, defense and special teams," junior tailback Henry Harris said. "We just have to keep a positive attitude. We just have to find a way to win."

Asked if Southeast still had time to turn its season around, junior linebacker Justin Woodlief said: "It's not if. We need to turn this thing around."

Statistically speaking

Southeast had a season-low 154 yards, including only 22 second-half yards as the Redhawks' offense barely had the ball over the final two quarters. It was the second straight week where Southeast's offense rarely touched the ball after halftime.

Sophomore quarterback Matt Scheible threw for just 29 yards as he completed 7 of 16 passes, with two interceptions, although one was a desperation heave in the closing seconds.

Scheible's longest completion went for 9 yards.

Asked if Southeast's offense was a bit conservative in the second half, Scheible said: "We were trying to get ball control because we were up by 11. The defense had been on the field a long time."

Junior tailback Mike Jones rushed for 54 yards on 10 carries. Harris added 52 yards on 18 attempts.

Defensively, sophomore linebacker Philip Klaproth led the way with 14 tackles. Blanfort and senior cornerback Eddie Calvin both had 10 tackles.

Austin Peay piled up 418 yards, 325 on the ground.

Southeast was outgained 257 to 22 in the second half, when Austin Peay held the ball for 23 of 30 minutes and had 47 offensive plays to just 19 for the Redhawks.

Southeast has an open date before returning to action Oct. 24 at Tennessee Tech.

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