Bobcats bounced by Braves, 18-7
Basehor-Linwood High School's football team began a streak on Friday, Aug. 31, .
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, however, it was the kind of streak you try to avoid, as BLHS was beaten for the second straight season by Bonner Springs, this time losing 18-7 in front of a packed house at BLHS.
On the scoreboard, the Braves won by 11, but in the minds of the Bobcat players and coaches, the game was actually a lot closer.
"It ended up being 18-7," BLHS coach Paul Brown said. "But it was probably a closer ballgame than that. And I think (BSHS coach) Lew (Kasselman) would say the same thing."
The first quarter resembled more of a punting clinic than an actual game as the game's first five possessions, three for BLHS and two for BSHS, ended with punts. On the sixth possession, the Braves set their offensive tone. One play after converting a fourth-and-short situation, Braves quarterback Tommy Gardner fumbled the snap and BLHS's Dan Renfro pounced on the ball. The miscue was one of six Braves fumbles on the night of which they lost three but Brown said his team could've used one more.
"I wish we would've had a fourth," Brown said. "That was huge recovery by us at the goalline and it kept them out in the first half."
The goal-line recovery Brown spoke of came right before halftime, when on first and goal, Braves running back Josh Bosley leaped over the top but lost the ball and the Bobcats recovered.
"That was a big play for us," BLHS quarterback Nick Verbenec said. "If they score there, they would've had the lead and got the ball to start the second half, but our defense stepped up big time."
The second half opened with a seven-play, 72-yard Bonner Springs scoring drive. The Braves got on the board with 9:17 remaining in the third quarter when Gardner connected with wideout Aaron Weathers for a 27-yard touchdown. They then went for two on the conversion but failed and led 6-0.
From there, BLHS managed to tighten up its defense, but its offense never could quite get going. A few lengthy Bobcat drives stalled because of good Braves defense or failed Bobcat runs. The latter of the two came as a shock to Brown.
"I thought we could run the ball better than we did," Brown said. "But they had a good defensive game plan they had eight in the box most of the night. Give credit to Bonner Springs, they played hard and they played well, they are a better football team than they were a year ago, but I think we are, too."
The Bobcats fell further behind at the beginning of the fourth quarter when Bonner Springs' Chris Cobbins scored on a 39-yard reverse, extending the lead to 12-0. Almost immediately, however, BLHS struck back when Verbenec connected with Brandon Dye on a 22-yard touchdown with 7:02 remaining. Charles Millison stepped on the field to knock the extra point through the uprights and with seven minutes left, the Bobcats were down one score and feeling pretty good.
"We were fine once we got that score," Brown said. "We made the extra point and we were down five. We knew all we had to do was get it in the end zone but it didn't work out."
Bonner Springs took over leading by five points with just under seven minutes remaining and put the game out of reach. The Braves converted three crucial third downs down the stretch and then put the Bobcats away when Gardner took the ball in from one yard out. BSHS again failed on the conversion, this time missing an extra point attempt, but its defense was up to the challenge of holding the Bobcats down and the Braves did just that.
Individually for the Bobcats, Joey Barlow led the way on offense. Barlow rushed for 43 yards and halfback Matt Dukes chipped in 23, but it was not enough and the Bobcats fell to 0-1.
Despite the loss, however, Brown remained certain that this season is not lost.
"Very few teams go undefeated anyway," Brown said. "So if you have to lose one,, the first one is as good as any. But, of course, you always hate to lose."
Verbenec agreed and said he can't wait for the next game.
"I think everybody's still real positive," Verbenec said. "Mentally, this week will be a good test for us to see who we stack up after the loss."
BLHS will look to bounce back Friday, Sept. 7, when the team welcomes California High School from Missouri to town for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.