Bonner Springs dominates Piper in second half of game
Braves force five fumbles in rally that featured long touchdown pass
While the offense made the big plays in week one, it was the Bonner Springs defense that turned in the biggest plays in the team's come-from-behind 25-14 win over Piper on Friday at David Jaynes Field.
Leading the big-play defense were junior linebacker Jeremy Walker and sophomore linebacker Max Barren.
The pair caused fumbles and did the work to recover them as Piper turned the ball over four times in the game. Three of the fumbles led to points on Bonner Springs' next possession.
"What we preach is to try to put yourself in a position for an opportunity to score and we preach when the ball is on the ground to go after it," Bonner Springs coach Lew Kasselman said. "We let our team take over and we took control of the game in the second half."
After trailing 14-3 at halftime, Barren made a play that helped turn the game around. He jarred the football loose from Piper quarterback Joel Wright and then Barren fell on the fumble at the 43-yard line.
The play set up Tyler Jock's 43-yard pass to Jeremy Walker for Bonner's first touchdown of the game.
After Walker scored, Byron Williams ran for the two-point conversion cutting the Piper lead from 14-3 to 14-11 in the third quarter.
"For a moment, I thought I was going to drop the throw," Jeremy Walker said. "But then I caught it and heard the crowd."
Coach Kasselman said the touchdown pass was a huge play in the game, too.
"Jeremy had to come inside-out and he has good speed," Kasselman said. "He got the ball in the air and Tyler made a good throw."
Later in the quarter, Barren picked up a fumble and ran 30 yards with it.
"It was just instincts (to get those fumbles)," Barren said. "I just did what I am suppose to do. But they did get everybody fired up and we started realizing we are going to win. I think our defense is improving and we just like to hit somebody."
Zack Cohorst forced two fumbles.
With possession of the ball, Jock rushed in for a 5-yard touchdown.
Jeremy Walker also had some big hits on both offense and defense. He recovered one fumble and caused one fumble from his linebacker position. On offense, Jeremy turned in some super blocking for his brother, running back Jonathan Walker, especially on Bonner's final touchdown drive where the Braves running game worked effectively to run out the clock.
"We stayed focused and decided we are not losing at home," Jeremy Walker said. "We really came together as a team. We have good teammates who all work hard and push it to the max."
Late in the game it was good blocking and a good running game that clinched it for the Braves.
"We wanted to control the ball, so we went with our power game," Kasselman said. "We wanted to run the clock and we controlled it."
Bonner Springs scored just three points in the first half.
The Braves also used a fumble recovery by Byron Williams in the first quarter to set up kicker Ryan Bush's 36-yard field goal that let Bonner take an early 3-0 lead. Williams also saved the day for good enough field position for the Bush field goal by recovering an offensive fumble by the Braves that helped keep the Braves in field goal range. Williams added a two-point conversion run later in the game while Bush made both extra point attempts for Bonner. Bush, who is also a soccer player, had plenty of distance on all three kicks in the game.
The second quarter, however, belonged to Piper quarterback Joel Wright and his favorite receiver, Alex Jones, who both connected on two TD passes covering 29 and 71 yards to lead the Pirates to their 14-3 halftime advantage.
With the win, the Braves moved to 2-0 in the Kaw Valley League standings with this Friday's game at Tonganoxie.
"The kids are excited about being 2-0, but now it will get tougher every week," Kasselman said. "But it is nice to get some momentum. The kids want to work harder every week now."