Bobcats return to winning ways
The Basehor-Linwood High School football team claimed its third consecutive road victory Friday night, using a fourth quarter drive and touchdown to upend the Columbus Trojans, 23-22.
The Bobcats won with leadership from senior quarterback Michael Armstrong, who rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries (6.7 yards/per), and despite the fact that the 'Cats turned the ball over six times on interceptions.
"Our kids played hard to the very end," Bobcat head coach Steven Hopkins said. "Michael ran the ball very well. They really stacked the middle on us so it was tough getting yards there, but Michael ran the ball around the edges very well. By the time of that last drive we had worn them down and were finally able to break through a little bit."
While the ending of the game may have been euphoric for the Bobcats, the opening of the game looked bleak.
The Trojans built a 16-0 lead in the first quarter behind an 8-yard run from running back Nate Moss and a Dustin Crain 12-yard TD pass from quarterback Zane Kellogg.
Hopkins was impressed with the versatility of the Trojan QB.
"They ran the ball 47 times, but 12 of those came on scrambles when we flushed the quarterback out of the pocket and he would run for positive yards," Hopkins said. "He was a real threat, just so elusive. We made him scramble, he made yards. I'm glad that they didn't have designed running plays for him like we do for Michael."
The designed running plays for Armstrong began to pay off for the Bobcats in the second quarter as Armstrong took the ball in for a 5-yard keeper and then tossed the two-point conversion to tight end Kyle Speichinger to bring the 'Cats within eight at halftime.
When the Trojans' first possession of the third quarter stalled out, some specialized practice preparation paid off for the Bobcats.
"When we watched video of them (Columbus) during the week, we thought we saw an opportunity to block a kick," said Hopkins. "We worked hard on it all week, and we told the kids that we were counting on it."
The prep work came to fruition when junior Jordan Coffman blocked a Trojan punt and then raced 41 yards with it for a touchdown. The ensuing Michael Armstrong run for conversion would even the score at 16-16.
However, the Trojans would use the fourth quarter to retake the lead on Kellogg-to-Moss 18-yard touchdown pass set up by several key runs from Columbus. The conversion run was stuffed by the Bobcats, though, leaving Basehor a window of opportunity.
"What they hurt us with was the jet sweep, one of the same plays we use," Hopkins remarked. "We just didn't do a good job getting off the blocks."
Yet Hopkins would not have to worry about his defense getting off the blocks for long, as his offense produced a grinding drive that would take most of what remained of the final frame.
The drive was capped off by an Armstrong 1-yard dive for a touchdown to even the score at 22-22. Hopkins then showed faith in senior kicker Seth Lashbrook, who proceeded to boot the PAT through the uprights, giving the Bobcats a 23-22 victory.
While Hopkins had effusive praise for how Armstrong handled the run offense, he also had kind words for his defense.
"They didn't make any yards up the middle, and that was due to Alex Smith," Hopkins said. "He did a great job against the run."
The junior noseguard, who is still recovering from an ankle injury, recorded four tackles, including one for a loss.
"He couldn't generate five or six steps, but in his first two to three steps, they didn't make any yards," Hopkins said.
Hopkins also sang the praises of defensive linemen Brian and Kevin Marshall, who combined for 10 tackles, three for a loss. In all, the Bobcats collected 18 tackles for losses. Four players had more than one tackle for a loss, led by Speichinger and senior linebacker Josh Ishmael. Brian Marshall added two tackles for a loss, as did sophomore linebacker Todd Bell.
Offensively, junior running back Will Peterson saw his hundred-yard game streak end at four, but still added 71 yards on 15 carries (4.7 yards/per).
Overall, Hopkins took a self-deprecating attitude toward the win -- and the turnovers.
"It was one of the most poorly coached games by me," Hopkins said. "I don't know how we did win other than the kids' effort. I kind of fell in love with the pass because we had some success with it early, and I didn't stick with the run like I should have. We threw into coverage too much.
"But I give our kids credit. They never gave up."
The 3-2 Bobcats will next take on the 4-1 Tonganoxie Chieftains, Friday, Oct. 8, 7 p.m. at Tonganoxie High School.