Tonganoxie pays Piper narrow loss, 17-14
Most would have viewed Friday's game against Piper as a warm-up for Tonganoxie's last two district games, but the Chieftains witnessed more of a struggle first-hand.
After fumbling on its first possession, Tonganoxie fell behind on Jacob Williams' six-yard run, and the 4-2 Chieftains trailed the 1-5 Pirates by a score of 6-0. It was just Piper's second lead all season.
Tonganoxie sputtered through much of the first half, but was sparked by a usual performance and some extra assistance.
THS junior quarterback Troy Morando connected with junior receiver Kyle Mayse for another timely reception in the second quarter. The 28-yard completion put the Chieftains at the Piper three-yard line. On third and goal, Morando dived across the goal line and tied the game.
Tonganoxie usually goes for the two-point conversion, but elected for the extra point. Senior kicker Pat Weyer, also a midfielder on the THS soccer team, hit the point-after try and Tonganoxie had a 7-6 lead at the half.
After driving to the Piper 27 on its first possession after halftime, Tonganoxie fumbled again. Fortunately for THS, the run-oriented Chieftains found Mayse again, this time for a 61-yard pass. The junior finished with three catches for 137 yards.
"He has great hands," THS coach Mark Elston said. "He's a kid we know we can count on in the clutch."
Weyer now has a similar distinction. The kicker tacked on another extra point with Mayse's touchdown catch.
Piper answered with its own long pass, a 28-yard reception. The two-point conversion tied the game at 14 in the fourth quarter and Tonganoxie had to answer.
Weyer, who hadn't made a field goal in the previous six weeks, hit a 37-yard kick and the Chieftains held on for the 17-14 win.
"It was huge," Elston said. "Luckily we had a little more practice time on it this week. Pat's really improved over the course of six weeks."
The win keeps the Chieftains (5-2 overall and 4-1 in the Kaw Valley League) in first place in the KVL, but more importantly, 1-0 in the district playoffs. Friday's game could decide the district title. Basehor-Linwood (4-3 and 3-1) is also 1-0 in districts after a 21-14 win against Lansing.
Elston said last Friday's performance won't be helpful against the Bobcats.
"It was a poor effort," Elston said. "We'll have to play the game of the year against Basehor."
Wins against Basehor-Linwood and Lansing would put the Chieftains in the playoffs for the first time since 1995. A loss against either team could knock THS out of playoff contention.
Tonganoxie plays this Friday at Basehor.
Piper 6 0 0 0 14
Tonganoxie 0 7 7 3 17
P Jacob Williams 6 run (run failed)
T Troy Morando 3 run (Pat Weyer kick)
T Kyle Mayse 61 pass from Morando (Weyer kick)
P Alexander Demann 28 pass from Cody Jones (Williams run)
T Weyer 37 FG