Winning streak comes to crashing halt
Basehor-Linwood's three-game winning streak came to a crashing halt last Friday night as the Wamego Red Raiders used a 20-point fourth quarter to defeat the Bobcats, 27-0, at Kiester Field.
It was an unfortunate end to a game that for the most part was a defensive struggle. Until the last 6:39 of the game, which saw Wamego score three touchdowns, the two teams had combined for just 181 yards of total offense.
"Defensively, in the first half and really throughout the game until the last few minutes, we played well," B-L head coach Paul Brown said. "It was disappointing. After the game we talked to the kids about not reverting back to their old ways. We need to continue the success and progress we've made."
The first half turned out to be a game of field position. Neither team was able to sustain a drive longer than 29 yards (both by Basehor-Linwood) and the squads combined for eight punts in the first 16 minutes of the game.
Wamego finally took advantage of a tough punting night by B-L's Darren Marx, combined with a good night by the Red Raiders punter. After pinning the Bobcats deep in their own territory, Wamego scored the first points of the game, going on a nine-play, 33-yard drive, scoring on a six-yard run with just 23 seconds left before intermission.
"Field position was huge in the first half," Brown said. "They had pretty good field position, most of that because their punter did a nice job keeping us deep enough in our own territory where we didn't have much maneuvering room."
After neither team did much in the third quarter offensively, Wamego attempted a fake punt on fourth-and-five from the B-L 49-yard line, hoping to get some offense going. But the play backfired as a poor snap was fumbled around before Basehor-Linwood's Joey Barlow pounced on the loose pigskin at the Red Raiders' 36.
With junior quarterback Nick Verbenec sidelined because of a slight neck injury, sophomore quarterback Sean Kelley took over at the helm and moved the Bobcats to the B-L 20 before what turned out to be the turning point of the game.
Facing third-and-five, Kelley lofted a fade pass to Jackie Kimlin into the end zone. Kimlin caught the ball just outside of the line as it appeared a Wamego defender might have interfered with Kimlin. But no flag was thrown.
On fourth down, Kelley had a lapse in judgment and tossed a backward pass towards Matt Dukes. The throw was well off the target. Wamego recovered and took over at their own 32-yard line.
"That was just a young kid mistake," Brown said. "We called a slant and Sean looked opposite to the other side. That was the side we had the most open field to and that is what we teach, trying to throw to the open field as much as we can. We had the opportunity and just didn't convert.
"Sean felt horrible about the play. But he did move the team a little bit and got some experience. That's going to be a positive for us down the road."
On the next play, the Red Raiders running back busted loose for a 68-yard touchdown, with 6:29 remaining, essentially ending the game.
"If we go on to score and tie the game up, it changes the whole situation," said Brown. "It was the turning point of the game."
After the ensuing kickoff, Verbenec returned to the game, but threw an interception. Three plays later, Wamego scored again. The Bobcats fumbled away the next kickoff and the Red Raiders took little time to take advantage, scoring on a 49-yard pass play.
In just a span of 1:19, Wamego recovered two B-L fumbles, grabbed an interception and scored three touchdowns.
"We talked in the locker room after the game that the next three games are the ones that count," Brown said. "This was a disappointing game. We played tough up to the end, so we had some positives to talk about."
There wasn't much offense to talk about on the B-L side of the ball, gaining just 61 yards of total offense. But defensively, Mike Peerson had a huge game, getting in on 22 tackles. Jake Davis had 14 stops, including 12 solos and Quentin Holmes added 12 tackles. Kimlin had two interceptions in the game, giving him six for the season, and broke up two others.