Big third quarter boosts THS in district opener
Tonganoxie coach Mark Elston must have delivered one heck of a halftime speech.
After watching his 5-1 Chieftains suffer through a sluggish first half, Elston saw his team regroup and dominate Bonner Springs in the second half, en route to a 49-16 victory that moved THS to 1-0 in district play.
Although the domination was delayed by 24 minutes, it looked as if it would come early and often for THS.
Tonganoxie took a 6-0 lead on its opening drive of the game when senior tailback Sam Mitchell darted through the Bonner Springs defense for a 46-yard touchdown trot.
The strike capped a three-play, 51-yard drive that took just 1:09 off of the clock.
Although most winless teams might have folded at that point, the 0-6 Braves refused to give in, as they answered Tonganoxie's touchdown with a lengthy scoring drive of their own.
Led by the strong running of fullback Nick White and tailback Christian McDonald, the Braves marched through the heart of the Tonganoxie defense with an 11-play, 60-yard drive that finished with a one-yard plunge by quarterback Jordan Lamb.
The drive nearly spanned five minutes and was capped when kicker Jon Baxter booted the extra point through the uprights, giving the Braves a 7-6 lead. Bonner Springs extended its lead to 10-6 with a field goal, but the three-pointer would be the only points the Braves would muster until the waning moments of the fourth quarter.
However, at that moment, the THS defense was noticeably disturbed by the way it was playing. Captains yelled for more focus in the defensive huddle. Others pleaded for the team to play defense the way it was capable. For the next two quarters, they did. And the offense joined them.
Tonganoxie answered the BSHS field goal with another long run from Mitchell. This time, the senior soared 39 yards for a touchdown and a 12-10 lead.
Just before the half, Tonganoxie kicker Jeff Hughes nailed a 27-yard field goal and THS had a 15-10 halftime lead.
In the second half, the team everyone expected to see finally showed up. The same team that scored 55 points on Basehor-Linwood a week ago took the field and buried BSHS in less than seven minutes.
Mitchell scored his third touchdown of the night on a modest 14-yard run and the lead increased to 21-10.
Another defensive stand yielded another offensive possession, and this time the Chieftains struck through the air. Quarterback Ross Starcher hit a wide open Zach Ditty for a 71-yard score and the lead increased to 28-10.
On the ensuing kickoff, THS recovered the loose kick at the Braves' 21-yard line and the rout was officially on.
Mitchell added his fourth touchdown two plays later on a 10-yard run, and the lead grew to 35-10.
THS forced another three-and-out and scored yet again on their next possession. This time Ditty did it with his legs, trucking 84 yards for a touchdown and a 42-10 lead.
Ditty's run came with five minutes remaining in the third quarter, and Tonganoxie had increased its lead from five points to 32 in just seven minutes of play.
Tonganoxie tacked on one more touchdown and the Braves scored with 4:34 to play, to set the final score at 49-16.
THS, which moved to 1-0 in district play, will travel to De Soto on Friday to tackle its former league foe. DHS also is 6-1. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.