Bonner Springs snags first win of the season
Seven quarter-sized splotches of blood caked on the bottom right-hand side of his jersey were the only sure signs that Tyler Jock was human.
Between drops of blood, however, Jock put on his best Superman impersonation, as he twice rescued the Bonner Springs football team during its first win of the season, a 29-15 win over Perry-Lecompton on Friday.
Jock's first heroic gesture came with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. After dominating most of the half, the Braves found themselves leading by just a point when Perry-Lecompton's Brent Garrison scored on a 10-yard plunge with 1:28 to play in the half. A high snap forced the extra point to misfire, and Bonner Springs clung to a one-point lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Jock fielded the boot at the 21 yard line and crissed and crossed his way down the field for a 74-yard kick return. The return set the Braves up at the 5-yard line, first and goal with 1:12 to play. One play later, Jock capped a five-yard run with a dive into the end zone and the Braves led 14-6.
Jock downplayed the heroism of his kick return, saying he was just trying to get the defenders to commit their momentum one way while cutting back the other way. Jock's run was the result of an incredible individual effort, but he also received several key blocks along the way. The first came from the wedge back near the Braves' 30-yard line and the other came downfield when senior Travis Hubbel blew up a would-be tackler to help spring Jock inside the 10.
In the second half, Jock had a similar game-breaking run, this time after Perry-Lecompton had tied the game at 14 midway through the fourth quarter. Jock's second game-saving return covered 81 yards and went all the way to the end zone. Like the first, Jock's second return was fueled by a couple of key blocks. The first came from Jeff Hern 13 yards into the run. The rest came on the backside of the play and they prevented the Perry-Lecompton defenders from reaching Jock. The only remaining would-be tackler was the kicker, whom Jock aptly juked at midfield, springing him the remaining 50 yards for the score.
Of both runs, Jock was humble about his contribution to a much-deserved team victory.
"I just wanted to get us back into the game," Jock said. "This feels great. And I think this should carry into next week."
However, before looking ahead, the Braves were more than happy to look back at a game that gave them their first win of the season.
Senior tailback Christian McDonald got the Braves on the board early with a bruising 44-yard touchdown run on the team's second drive of the game. McDonald was responsible for all 59 of the yards on the two-play drive and had 88 yards after just five carries.
McDonald and the offensive line set the tone for a dominant first half on the team's first offensive play. After bursting through a massive hole created by linemen Robert Smith, Emanuel McComb, Brad Rittinghouse and R.J. Wild, McDonald lowered his shoulder and planted the Perry safety flat on his back.
The huge holes remained throughout the game whether it was McDonald running through them or Jock, who filled in at tailback after McDonald tweaked an ankle. McDonald missed most of the second half, but Jock filled in admirably, carrying 13 times for 160 yards.
"Tyler just has a great knack for running the ball," Bonner Springs coach Lew Kasselman said. "My only concern was whether he could take the continued pounding when we put him at tailback. But he did, and he did a good job. We've been looking for something like that and tonight, we got it."
Although Jock's plays shined the brightest, the Braves wound up victorious because of several little plays along the way.
Plays like Hern and Hubbel's blocks on the returns, or Rittinghouse's ferocious play on the defensive line, set the tone for the night. All night "The House" met the Perry-Lecompton ball carriers at the line of scrimmage, ripping them down to the ground before gaining a yard. Rittinghouse led all BSHS tacklers with 12 takedowns, including eight solo tackles and one sack.
"Brad had a great game," Kasselman said. "He just totally crushed the guy in front of him all night and made several big plays. Really, our defense kept us in this game. We only had five offensive plays or so in the third quarter, but our defense was up to the task. This win was a total team effort."
Even the Braves' kicking game chipped in. Place kicker Jon Baxter nailed two field goals (23 and 27 yards) and drilled three straight kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks in the fourth quarter.
Punter Josh Bailey also made an impact, as he punted four times of an average of 25 yards per kick, including a game-best of 34 yards after leaping to save a high snap from causing the Braves a headache.
The Braves simply refused to lose this game.
Although several specific plays and big time stands led directly to the win, it was the Braves' mindset entering the game that may have proven to be the biggest factor. For several weeks now, Kasselman had pleaded with his team to give him 48 full minutes of football. Friday, he broke it down into simpler terms and asked simply for 12 minutes at a time.
"I just thought that if we looked at things in shorter spurts, then we could feel like we were having more success and then go from the first one to the next one and start all over again," Kasselman said. "Looking at the game in shorter spurts gave us the chance to make more great things happen, because guys only felt like they had to give 12 minutes at a time so they played harder."
Whatever the case was, it worked, and now the Braves are just one win away from making their third straight postseason appearance.
In order to do so, the Braves will have to defeat De Soto Thursday night.