Offense moves ball in homecoming loss
Three fumbles and two interceptions are five turnovers too many.
To snap their current losing streak, the Tonganoxie football team must cut down on mistakes and hold onto the ball.
Despite turnovers, the Chieftains nearly won their homecoming game against Lansing Friday night at Beatty Field.
Early in the game, after the king and queen had been crowned, and the tiki torches and fake palms had been removed from the field, the Tonganoxie offense looked good.
Jacob Sledd recovered the ball when the Lansing deep man let a punt bounce off the ground and off his chest.
The Chieftains drove with Sledd carrying the ball five times including a six-yard run behind the left side of the offensive line for a touchdown.
The defense held, forcing Lansing to punt. And that's when the ball started popping loose.
The Chieftains recovered their own fumble on a mishandled snap, but the resulting third and long forced a punt.
A 35-yard run down the right sideline by Lansing quarterback Matt Bowers evened the score.
A Lansing interception led to a field goal, a Tonganoxie fumble led to another touchdown, another Lansing interception led to a third touchdown, and the Chieftains were in a deep hole.
"We played well," said Steve Hughes, Tonganoxie football coach. "We just made too many turnovers. We gave them most of their scoring opportunities."
Despite trailing 24-7, the Chieftains didn't give up. Lansing recovered an onside kick with about two minutes left, but the strategy backfired.
The defense held and the Lions snapped the ball over the punter's head on fourth down.
Tonganoxie moved the ball to the Lansing 31. With five seconds left in the second quarter, Ryan Lowe kicked a 48-yard field goal, giving the Chieftains a lift.
Lowe missed a 37-yard field goal which was set up by a Lansing fumble in the third quarter.
The Chieftains cut the lead to a touchdown at 1:56 in the third quarter when quarterback John Barnes threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Minor in the left corner of the end zone.
Lowe added a 43-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, closing the gap to 24-20.
The defense forced a punt and Tonganoxie got the ball with 7:43 to play on their own 42.
Unfortunately, the fumble bug bit again. After recovering the ball, Lansing scored a touchdown, ending the Chieftains' hopes for a win.
Once again, Tonganoxie showed signs of improvement. The offense and defense combined to outscore Lansing 10-7 in the second half.
Barnes completed seven of 15 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown.
Lansing intercepted him once.
Two offensive players carried much of the load for the Chieftains.
Neil Rieger had five catches for 107 yards.
Sledd carried the ball 18 times for 104 yards.
Tonganoxie had 226 total yards to Lansing's 165.
"We moved the ball well," Hughes said after the game.
Chris Calovich had five unassisted and four assisted tackles, including a sack.
Tonganoxie travels to Basehor-Linwood for a 7 p.m. game Friday.