Bobcats whipped by Wamego, 35-0
Basehor-Linwood tailback Matt Dukes doesn't mince words about the Bobcats' offensive performance after a second shutout in two weeks.
"It's ridiculous and we know that," Dukes said after last week's 35-0 loss at Wamego.
"This is the first time in forever that we haven't scored in two straight games," Dukes said. "We just need guys to step up from here on out."
After falling 27-0 to Mill Valley the week before, the Bobcats vowed that they would bounce back against Wamego.
In the early going it seemed they were ready to do just that. Wamego won the coin toss and deferred their choice to the second half. Basehor elected to receive, and the opening kickoff was an onside attempt by Wamego, but the Bobcats covered it at the 41-yard line.
BLHS failed to capitalize on the good field position and three plays and two penalties later they punted the ball away something they found themselves doing all night. While the offense sputtered out of the gates, the defense came out slamming and early on it looked like the game might turn out to be a defensive battle. The Bobcats stuffed Wamego, three-and-out, on its first possession of the game and actually knocked the Red Raiders back six yards.
"I think overall our defense played well tonight, in terms of how aggressive we were attacking the ball," coach Paul Brown said. "They wore down a little bit at the end there, but we did a pretty good job of stopping the run they just got a few big plays on us."
Two of those big plays came on fourth down and both went for touchdowns. The first of the fourth-down touchdowns came on Wamego's second possession of the game. Faced with a fourth-and-four at the BLHS 14, Wamego quarterback Aaron Sylvester dropped back and found wideout Renzie Poe in the corner of the end zone. The catch was Poe's second of the drive and it capped a 64-yard, five play drive that broke BLHS's back.
"That just tears you up," linebacker Jeff Lackner said. "When you hold them three straight times and then they score on fourth down, it just tears you up."
Wamego's second fourth-down conversion came midway through the third quarter when fullback Andy McMaster scored from three yards out and all but buried the Bobcats.
McMaster's touchdown was set up by a 59-yard interception return by senior linebacker Cody Hartwick, and it capped an 11-yard drive that put the Red Raiders up 28-0.
"I think the story of the game was turnovers and field position," Brown said. "We gave them the ball too easy and you can't do that if you expect to win.
The interception in the third quarter, the fourth-down conversion and a blocked punt in the first quarter, a 65-yard punt return in the fourth quarter and a 34-yard Poe touchdown in the second quarter were the five big plays that did the Bobcats in. The last of the group came on a second attempt.
Midway through the first quarter Sylvester pitched the ball to tailback Matt Campbell on a sweep. Instead of running with the ball, however, Campbell stopped and launched it downfield to a wide-open Poe. With nobody near him, Poe slipped on the turf and the ball fell incomplete. In the second quarter, the Red Raiders called the play again, and this time Poe stayed on his feet and cruised into the end zone.
"We bit on a halfback pass twice, bad," Brown said. "The second time, when they threw the touchdown we were yelling it from the sideline. We knew what was coming. When the ball was snapped I'm yelling pass, pass, pass and we still reacted wrong."
Aside from being big-played to death, the Bobcats were also beaten to death by the Wamego defense. Wamego surrendered 96 total yards, including just 35 in the first half, and the Bobcats didn't gain their initial first down until Nick Verbenec scrambled for 11 yards on the first possession of the second half.
"It's tough to swallow because we know our offense has potential," Verbenec said. "We've seen it. We've had a few key injuries lately and that has hurt, but I know we can move the ball, we just have to figure out how to do it consistently."
All things considered, the Bobcats played pretty well defensively, limiting Wamego's high-powered attack to just 255 yards.
"We need to get better on both sides of the ball," Dukes said. "Our defense looked good, but it can play better and our offense needs to get a lot better than we were tonight."
Basehor-Linwood will now jump into district play for the final three games of the season and the Bobcats will open district play against Lansing at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12.