Tonganoxie football offense can’t get going in district shutout loss
During the second half of Friday night’s contest between Tonganoxie and Piper, head coach Al Troyer had a plea for his offensive line.
“Get us to the red zone,” Troyer barked. “We haven’t been there once tonight.”
However, the Piper defense had other plans.
Tonganoxie was held to 89 total yards and zero visits to the red zone, and was shut out for the first time all season in a 28-0 loss Friday night at Pipe.
“We haven’t been shut down like that all year offensively,” Troyer said. “One game doesn’t define who we are. We had one bad game.”
In his third game at quarterback for the Chieftains, junior Mac Thompson completed three of his nine passes for 42 yards and three interceptions.
After only throwing the ball twice through three quarters, Thompson had to throw seven times in the fourth quarter with Tonganoxie trailing 13-0 to start the period. Thompson was unable to withstand the Piper blitz and threw interceptions on three of his seven passes in the fourth quarter.
“We’re going to take what gets us there,” Troyer said. “Mac is filling in for two big guys in Zac Morgan on defense and Mason Beach on offense. He’s doing a great job with it. We didn’t have an issue with him throwing picks until he was forcing things towards the end.”
Since the passing game was mostly a non-factor, Piper was able to key on the Tonganoxie rushing attack. Senior running back Jordan Brown was still effective with 17 rushes for 72 yards (go back and check), but it wasn’t enough to help the offense sustain any drives.
“We were just missing blocks here and there and they were coming off the edge and making plays,” Troyer said. “They made plays when they needed to and we didn’t.”
However, Tonganoxie had a fighting chance for a majority of the game thanks to the play of its defense. Outside of a quick touchdown scored by Piper after a failed onside kick by Tonganoxie on the opening play, the defense stood its ground for almost three full quarters.
“Our defense did a great job,” Troyer said. “It’s tough when our offense doesn’t move the ball, and you have a defense that’s out there probably 40 of the 48 minutes.”
After getting stops for the entire first half, the Chieftains’ defense finally cracked late in the third quarter. On fourth and 27, the Pirates picked up exactly 27 yards to set up a touchdown just a few plays later to give them a 13-0 lead.
After an interception return gave Piper its third touchdown, it scored one more with less than a minute left against an exhausted Tonganoxie defense.
“We were still holding them,” Troyer said. “But those last two, we were just gassed, we had nothing left in the tank because those guys were on the field most of the time.”
Tonganoxie still can qualify for the Class 4A Division I playoffs, but it will be a bit of an uphill battle. THS can secure a bid with a road victory against 8-0 Basehor-Linwood at 7 p.m. Friday in Basehor and an Atchison victory against Piper. If Tonganoxie were unable to beat Basehor-Linwood, it also would need Atchison to beat Piper on Friday. If that happens along with a Tonganoxie loss, it would be a three-way tie between Atchison, Piper and Tonganoxie at 1-2 in districts.
Tiebreakers for district teams come down to a point system. BLHS currently is at 42 points, Piper at 7, THS at -20 and Atchison at -22. Margins of victories
But those scenarios hasn’t even crossed Troyer’s mind.
“They (the Chieftains) know those kids,” Troyer said of archrival BLHS. “Some of them live within blocks of each other being seven miles down the road. They aren’t going to cave easily.”