Battling Bobcats fall short
Tonganoxie holds off furious BLHS rally, 17-12
Basehor-Linwood showed it could hang with one of the best football teams in the Kaw Valley League on Friday.
But that was little consolation after a furious fourth-quarter rally fell short and the Bobcats lost to Tonganoxie 17-12.
After being shut out the entire game the Bobcats scored touchdowns on each of their last two possessions, but they couldn't overcome some costly breakdowns on special teams.
The very first play turned out to be a big one for the Chieftains as they took the opening kickoff from their own goal line and returned it 66 yards. The return set up a touchdown and two-point-conversion.
"I think after the return it took our guys a minute to gather themselves again, so they got that first drive in," Bobcats coach Paul Brown said. "But after that we stepped it up on defense and played tremendously."
After the initial score the Chieftains weren't able to move the ball against the Bobcats despite being one of the bigger, more physical teams the Bobcats have faced.
Billy Hashman was in on several tackles around the line of scrimmage, and the Bobcats defensive line was able to hold its own against the physical Chieftains.
"We were pushing away using our agility," lineman Kris Johnson said. "We had more speed with Brian Creed at 6'6" and he runs pretty fast, and Hancock and I are pretty fast, and Heffley's pretty fast for his size, too."
The Chieftains were able to muster one eight-play drive that took them all the way to the Bobcats' one yard line late in the half. The defense rose up and stopped them on fourth down, but turned the ball over to a Basehor offense that was struggling mightily.
The Bobcats were not able to move the ball out of the shadow of their own goalposts and when punter Seth Lashbrook fielded the snap he stepped out of bounds for a safety. The dangerous field position was a symptom of an offense that managed just two first downs before the Chieftains dropped into a prevent defense at the end of the half.
"I think it was just their defense," Basehor quarterback Mike Armstrong said. "At the beginning of the game we were doing the option and it wasn't working because they kept sucking those linebackers outside."
Armstrong said the Bobcats adjusted in the second half and began to run more counter plays up the middle to try to bring the linebackers and defensive ends in tighter and free up the outside. The strategy worked on the third possession, as running back Peter Brown pounded the ball up the middle for consecutive 10- yard gains. But Armstrong was sacked for a big loss on a play-action fake and the drive stalled.
After the game Armstrong said he remained confident with the team's offensive scheme.
"We can score with this offense, we've seen it been done before on film," Armstrong said. "We've seen it done and we can do it we just need to be confident."
With the offense sputtering the Bobcats defense once again shouldered the load, forcing punt after punt from the Chieftains powerful offense. The score remained 10-0 for most of the game.
"I think the effort on defense was great. Tonganoxie's a good team and they've won a lot of games this year," Paul Brown said. "I was really proud of the kids in that respect."
The offense finally solved the Chieftains with five minutes left in the game. Six running plays by Peter Brown, Armstrong and Tyler Dowdall netted 55-yards and Brown scored from the three yard line to make it 10-6 after the Chieftains blocked the extra point.
With the game suddenly in doubt, the Chieftains responded with a touchdown drive of their own, a critical answer that left the Bobcats down two scores again with only two minutes left to play.
Still the Bobcats didn't quit. Armstrong threw for 20 yards to lead a 66-yard drive that was also helped by two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the Chieftains. Peter Brown scored again to bring the Bobcats within 17-12 with 30 seconds left.
Basehor's final hopes died when Chris Prgomet's onside kick was recovered by a Tonganoxie lineman. Paul Brown said the comeback was a sign that the offense was getting on track.
"We moved the ball well in the second half, especially late in the game," Paul Brown said. "I was so proud of how the kids battled back. We were down enough that it's really hard and we had the wind in our face in the fourth quarter and yet we still took the ball right down the field and scored."
The Bobcats will have to push aside the tough loss fast to prepare for tomorrow's game against 6-1 Piper, which clinched the league title with a victory over Lansing last week. The Bobcats and Pirates face off at 7 p.m. at Piper.