Ground game stopped in 42-6 defeat
Lansing Typically, running the ball is a major variable in the formula for success for Tonganoxie High School football.
On Friday night, the Chieftains averaged only 3.2 yards per rushing attempt. The result: Tonganoxie lost its season opener, 42-6, on the road at Lansing.
"The first half, we didn't block anything correctly," Tonganoxie coach Mark Elston said. "Our assignments were way off and our backs weren't hitting holes correctly."
Lansing erupted for 21 points in the second quarter. Senior quarterback Bobby Hauver gave the Lions a four-touchdown lead with 3:57 remaining before halftime when he sprinted past the Chieftains secondary, down the right-hand sideline. Hauver found the corner of the end zone before any THS player could catch up.
Hauver finished with 46 yards rushing and 148 yards passing. He accounted for two scores.
"They didn't do anything very tricky," Elston said. "They just lined up and whipped us at the line. That's a little bit disheartening."
Lansing running back Chris Hill, who's already received offers to play at the Division I collegiate level, also gave Tonganoxie trouble. Hill didn't light up the stat sheet, but was a workhorse. Lansing gave Hill the ball 17 times. He rushed for 61 yards and scored twice.
The Lions produced 254 yards rushing, as compared to Tonganoxie's 113.
"They're big and they got ready to play," senior defensive back Jared Lamb said. "We weren't really ready to play."
Despite a 28-point halftime deficit, Tonganoxie didn't give up. Players ferociously tried to pump each other up on the sidelines after encouraging plays.
The second half saw many more positive plays for THS. Jeremy Carlisle, who started his first game ever at the high school level, connected with senior D.J. Gray on a 24-yard touchdown pass with 11:15 remaining in the final quarter. Carlisle showed poise, particularly for a freshman, during the eight-play, 59-yard drive. The touchdown pass came during a fourth-and-10 situation.
Carlisle finished the night 2-for-5 with 29 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Two of Carlisle's incompletions were the result of dropped passes. Carlisle also had 15 yards on the ground.
"He's going to learn the speed of the game, and I think on his first pass, he realized the speed of the game is a whole lot different," Elston said of the interception. "He's used to playing against 13-year-old kids and he's playing against 18-year-old men out there now. Considering what he was under and his first game as a quarterback, I was pleased. He did some very good things and showed some poise."
Tonganoxie had a scare in the second half when Lamb made a hit on a Lansing offensive player. Lamb said he hit the player too high and suffered a concussion as he hit the ground.
Lamb was taken to a hospital in Overland Park. He was released at 1:30 a.m. Saturday. Lamb practiced Monday and said he was feeling healthy again.
Tonganoxie will play on the road again in its second game of the season Sept. 7 against Kansas City Ward.
"We just have to focus, keep practicing hard and make sure we do all the little things right," Lamb said. "We have to let all the bad things stay behind us."