Chieftains plow through Lions
This year's Tonganoxie football team already has done something last year's esteemed 9-2 squad couldn't do -- defeat Lansing.
The Chieftains avenged last year's 14-10 loss to the Lions, a game that THS led most of the tune.
On Friday, though, Tonganoxie scored on their first possession and kept piling on the points in a 37-14 season-opening victory.
After forcing LHS to punt on a three-and-out situation on the first drive of the game, Tonganoxie responded with a 17-play, 80-yard drive capped by Jeff Hughes extra point that put THS ahead 7-0 with 2:40 left in the first quarter.
On Lansing's next possession, the Lions went three-and-out again, but this time, senior Bryan Morris blocked the LHS punt and Tonganoxie recovered on the Lansing 30. This time, the Chieftains didn't need quite as many plays to reach the end zone. The three-play drive was highlighted by Tyler Miles' acrobatic catch near the Lansing sideline at the 1. Hughes ran in for the 1-yard score with 1.2 seconds left in the first and the Chieftains were cooking.
Time management seemed to be a Tonganoxie weapon Friday. After scoring just before the first quarter ended, the Chieftains connected on Hughes' 35-yard field goal as time expired at the half for a 17-0 lead.
However, Lansing roared back after halftime and cut the lead to 17-6 and got the ball back after Tonganoxie went three-and-out.
Lansing had first and 10 and its own 20, but on third down and six, Morris again hurried LHS senior quarterback J.T. Collins. As Morris brought Collins down, the quarterback threw the ball, but was called for intentional grounding.
That left Lansing with a fourth and 24 situation at its own 5. After THS senior running back Daniel Volk fumbled on Tonganoxie's next offensive play, the Lions got the ball back. Two plays later, Collins threw a pick to THS senior Jordan Herron.
Back on offense, Volk scored three plays later on a four-yard run and THS countered the Lansing rally.
"We came out a little dead in the second half," THS coach Mark Elston said. "They came out with intensity."
Morris, who had four sacks and five total tackles for losses against Lansing, said the team had been eyeing the rematch with Lansing since losing to the arch-rival a year ago.
And, the THS defense, which he said has gotten a reputation the last few years as being stingy, was in full force against the Lions.
"The D-line's really been stepping it up tonight," Morris said Friday.
Morris, who is part of that front line, also had a big special teams night with the blocked punt.
"You've got to make a big play when a big play needs to be made," Morris said. "It was just me. It could have been any other person."
Elston praised his defensive and offensive lines. The offensive line, which lost several players to graduation, helped move the offense up and down the field throughout the night.
Of course, it didn't hurt that D.J. Gray, a junior running back, helped rush for nearly 100 yards on 20 carries.
"He's one shifty cat," Elston said about Gray, who had just five carries in varsity play before Friday's season opener.
Gray overcame some first-game jitters and led the THS running corps. Volk had 13 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown, while Hughes had 12 carries for 30 yards and three touchdowns.
"It felt really good to run against guys I've never played against before," Gray said.
Regarding the passing game, Hughes was 7-for-11 passing the ball for 133 yards and a touchdown. He also had one interception.
That touchdown pass went to Miles, who had four catches for 100 yards.
Tonganoxie next will play Bishop Ward on Friday at THS. The Cyclones and Chieftains have played four times in the last three years. Each game has been decided by seven or fewer points.
"I really enjoy playing against them," Elston said. "They play hard.
"They bring it, so we're going to have to bring it. We can't get too comfy."
TONGANOXIE 37, LANSING 14
Score by quarters
Lansing (0-1) 0 0 6 8 -- 14
Tonganoxie (1-0) 14 3 7 13 -- 37
How they scored
T -- Hughes 9 run (Hughes kick)
T -- Hughes 2 run (Hughes kick)
T -- Hughes 35 FG
L -- Dide 74 pass from Collins (kick blocked)
T -- Volk 4 run (Hughes kick)
T -- Hughes 5 run (kick blocked)
L -- Collins 11 run (conversion good)