Bobcats come up just short
There was all the usual talk about who was going to whup who before last week's football game between Basehor-Linwood and Bonner Springs high schools. But when the two teams actually took the field they staged one of their closest contests in years. Basehor-Linwood matched Bonner Springs touchdown for touchdown, but a 25-yard field goal by Justin Moulin earned the Braves a 17-16 victory.
Moulin's leg put the Braves over the top, but it was the Bobcats' inability to stop Tyler Jock that kept them from beating their rivals for a fourth straight year. The all-league junior rushed for 197 yards and two touchdowns, shredding the Bobcats with his speed and his ability to change directions in a flash.
"There were a number of times when I felt like we had that young man surrounded and he still made plays," BLHS coach Steve Hopkins said of Jock. "Tyler really hurt us with the cutback."
The game started well for the Bobcats defensively, as they stuffed Jock on the first play and forced an incompletion from Bonner quarterback Willie Wilson on the next. But on third down Wilson lofted a long pass down the left sideline where Chandler Schaake was in single coverage with Bonner's top receiver, Anthony Brown. Schaake was with Brown stride for stride, but the Braves' senior elevated over him and came down with the ball for a spectacular, 36-yard reception.
"I was kind of pissed," Schaake said of the moment he realized Brown had made the catch. "Some guys on the sideline said he bobbled it and then got it."
Hopkins said he thought Brown had shoved Schaake in the back before going up for the ball and should have been been called for interference. He also praised his cornerback's effort on the play.
"He was right there," Hopkins said. "You can't fault Chandler, his positioning was perfect."
Schaake had the unenviable task of shadowing Brown for the entire game last Friday. Although Brown did catch two more balls for 23 and 22 yards, both came on passes to the flat where Brown broke tackles and gained most of his yards after the catch. Hopkins said he was very pleased overall with the coverage Schaake provided on Brown, a 6-foot-2 senior with great leaping ability.
The one man none of the Bobcats had an answer for was Jock. After Brown's diving catch, Jock took a handoff to the left side, cut outside twice and scored the game's first touchdown from 26 yards out.
After falling behind 7-0 on two big plays the Bobcats could have yielded to the momentum of the Braves and the emotion of their home crowd. But Basehor-Linwood marched right back the other way, grinding out an 11-play drive with three separate backs carrying the ball. Kevin Marshall started off the drive with a 13-yard run and finished it by crashing four yards up the middle for a touchdown, spinning off would-be tacklers. The senior added the two-point conversion with a run off left tackle.
Marshall finished the game with 45 yards on 13 carries, while Schaake carried the ball 10 times for 54 yards. The BLHS offensive line, led by tackles Ethan Douglas and Swede Johnson, dominated their Bonner Springs' counterparts early on.
"We had a lot of faith that we could run the ball and on that drive we did," Hopkins said. "Later we needed to make first downs in short yardage situations and Bonner made the plays."
After its first drive the Bobcats' offense stalled, converting on just 1 of 7 third downs. Marshall and Schaake ran effectively, but never broke free for a game-breaking play and, with sophomore quarterback Ben Zuk making his first start, Hopkins opted to pass just twice. Zuk completed both passes for 17 yards and after the game Hopkins said he should have called more pass plays.
While the BLHS offense faltered, the defense stepped up and kept the team in the game with big plays. Bonner Springs looked ready to go back on top in its second possession, with a first and goal from the 10. But Basehor-Linwood defensive end Jacob Schierbaum chased down Wilson in the backfield for a sack. Senior lineman Nick Davis stuffed the next play for a two-yard loss, and Marshall came on a blitz on third and goal and sacked Wilson all the way back to the 29. The Braves were forced to punt.
The Braves went down the field again on the next possession, driving all the way to the three. On second down Scott Ogilvie and Ben Adams knocked the Braves back to the five, forcing them to throw on the next play. That turned out to be big when Wilson's desperate toss was intercepted in the end zone by Travis Inlow.
But Jock came out of the locker room after halftime and took matters into his own hands. On the third play of the half the junior ran right, bumped into a crowd of defenders, and then cut back all the way across the BLHS defense, scoring from 42 yards out. It was one of seven runs of 10 yards or more for Jock on the night.
"We've got to wrap up, not let them break tackles," Schaake said. "Jock did that a lot tonight."
Jock's score put the Braves back in the lead, but again the BLHS defense responded in a big way. On the Braves' next possession Marshall blasted in from his linebacker position and shattered the left side of Bonner's offensive line. He hit Wilson before the quarterback had even finished dropping back, forcing a fumble. Tyler Miles picked up the ball for Basehor-Linwood and ran it 40 yards to the end zone. Marshall tacked on another two-point conversion to put the Bobcats up 16-14.
The defense bent just enough in the fourth quarter to give Moulin his shot, though. A nine-play Braves' drive featured a 13-yard run by Jock and a 15-yard pass interference penalty against BLHS. Moulin, who had already connected easily on two extra points, split the uprights from 25 yards out with just over eight minutes to play. The Bobcats had one more possession, but it stalled at Bonner's 33-yard line when Marshall was stopped on fourth-and-one.