Hard-fought homecoming win
THS holds on against De Soto 23-20; Chieftains lead Kaw Valley race
Tonganoxie's homecoming Friday against De Soto started out somewhat rocky, but the ride smoothed out just in time for a Kaw Valley League win.
De Soto (1-3 overall and 1-3 in the KVL) drove for a touchdown on its first possession with the help of junior running back Michael Allen on a 13-play 70-yard drive with three minutes left in the first quarter. Allen finished the game with 168 yards on 30 carries. The Chieftains generated some offense as well in the first half, finishing with 98 yards rushing. De Soto had 147 yards rushing and 75 yards passing, but held its 7-0 lead going into the half.
Then things changed.
The Chieftains (3-1, 3-0) started to contain Allen, and the offense produced on a Joe Sledd touchdown. Chuck Riddle ran in the two-point conversion and the Chieftains scored and never trailed again, despite a wild fourth quarter. THS added another touchdown and two-point conversion on a Riddle run and Matt Alexander reception.
With a 16-14 lead, senior quarterback Troy Morando found junior Kyle Mayse for a 38-yard touchdown pass. Mayse caught a 57-yard pass in the third quarter on third and 28.
"It was the exact same play," Mayse said.
Trailing 23-14, the Wildcats came back on a well-executed end-around flea flicker. The two-point conversion failed. Leading 23-20, Tonganoxie couldn't run out the clock, and De Soto was back on offense. Alexander, though, picked off a Greg Francis pass, and the Chieftains escaped with the victory.
Tonganoxie now leads the KVL after Basehor-Linwood defeated Santa Fe Trail 19-13 on a touchdown with 50 seconds left Friday night in Basehor.
Tonganoxie finished with 260 yards on the ground and 105 passing yards for 365 yards of total offense.
The Chieftains were flagged with 10 major penalties compared to the Wildcats' one. Tonganoxie coach Mark Elston questioned some of the calls, most notably an offensive pass interference that was waived off in the end zone. De Soto scored on the play.
"The rule is that if the ball is tipped, there is no pass interference," Elston said. "But contact occurred before the tip."
Sophomore Billy Baska almost had an interception on the play as well.
The Chieftains might have gotten their own break, on a fumble near the goal line that was a dead play because of an inadvertent whistle. The Chieftains also had a stretch of five penalties in four plays.
Still, Tonganoxie escaped an improved De Soto team that went 0-9 last year. Wildcat coach Brad Scott is now 1-12 in his second season at De Soto.
"We were this close," Scott said. "But when you have a program that's established, you win games like that."
Tonganoxie now plays Santa Fe Trail on Friday at Beatty Field. A win would give Tonganoxie some breathing room in the league race. The Chargers are 2-1 in league play, while Basehor-Linwood is 2-0.
"They're very good," Elston said about Santa Fe Trail. "They get in the secondary in a hurry."
Tonganoxie will be without offensive lineman and linebacker Lucas Frantz, who suffered a leg injury against De Soto.