Inlow leads ‘Cats to victory
If Tonganoxie could take any positives from its difficult football season, Friday night's game at Basehor-Linwood offered countless examples.
The Chieftains produced 205 more yards of total offense than Basehor. THS stuffed Basehor's run and made its passing game look nonexistent.
Tonganoxie still lost, 26-14. How does that add up in the scorebook?
Answer: Special teams.
Basehor's Travis Inlow created a special teams highlight reel by taking punt returns of 83 and 70 yards past the Tonganoxie coverage for touchdowns.
"Our special teams were obviously great from the kickoffs to the PAT execution," Basehor-Linwood coach Steve Hopkins said.
"Travis Inlow blew the game open with 2 spectacular punt returns - one 86 yards and the second one for 76 yards when he got to the wall we set up and followed threegreat blocks by Chandler Schaake, Scott Ogilvie and Tyler Miles.
Basehor-Linwood stressed special teams throughout the week in practice.
The team worked hard on fake punts and on its field goals in the .
Matt Murrell stepped in for Kyle Savner and recorded a couple of touchbacks.
Kyle Slater did a great job punting to certain spots so we could avoid their primary return man, and other than one punt which took a poor hop when he kicked into the wind, he did great - averaging a net of 31 yards.
Tonganoxie coach Mark Elston said special teams were the difference in the game.
Inlow gave Basehor a 15-0 lead in the second quarter with the 83-yard return. The senior didn't look like he was going to return the punt at first. After the ball bounced in the air, Inlow took the ball in stride at his own 17-yard line and flew past the THS defenders down the left sideline.
His second return occurred in the third quarter and put Basehor ahead, 23-0. Inlow received blocks along the right sideline and was gone again for another touchdown.
Tonganoxie (1-5) made the game interesting, though, particularly after Inlow's second score.
Senior running back Kevin Gill had arguably the most acrobatic run of the night. Gill ran around the right side of the THS offensive line and broke through to the second level of Basehor's defense -- he appeared to be down. Out of nowhere, Gill kept his feet and broke free in front of his raucous teammates on the sideline encouraging the effort. The end result was a 62-yard touchdown run.
Gill had 125 yards and a score on 13 carries. He left the game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury. Gill sat on the sideline for the remainder of the game with his left shoulder wrapped in ice.
"He played his guts out," Elston said. "He's got a separated shoulder. He's got a cracked rib and he's out there digging. On his touchdown run, everybody thought he was down after a three or four-yard gain, but he came out of there."
A few series after a Basehor field goal, with 3:51 remaining in the game, Tonganoxie cut the lead to 26-14 with a 60-yard pass from Jeremy Carlisle to Gabe Belobrajdic.
Belobrajdic had his way with the Basehor secondary. The senior caught six passes for 115 yards and the touchdown.
"They had their second string in and had loose coverage, knowing that we were going to pass," Elston said. "They weren't getting heat on the quarterback like they got earlier. We were having mental mistakes with picking up blitzers and running routes, but once we got that figured out, we were able to throw the ball."
Tonganoxie simply ran out of time. On a fourth-and-goal from the BLHS eight yard-line, Carlisle found Belbrajdic in the left corner, but he was a yard shy of the goal line. Basehor (2-4) took over on downs and ran the clock out.
"Defensively we were not very assignment sound, and that cost us. We also lost Swede Johnson to a knee injury on the third play of the game on an illegal chop block (which was called for a 15 yard penalty), and that really hurt our front line," Hopkins said. "He is our most reliable inside player and that forced us to shift kids to unfamiliar spots. He played part time on offense after that, but we could not afford to have him hurt worse, so he did not play another play on defense."
Tonganoxie will play host to Perry-Lecompton next week, while Basehor will play host to St. James Academy (Lenexa) for homecoming.