Ground vs. air: Tonganoxie football survives high-scoring affair
Friday’s playoff game against Chanute seemed to go from a potential lock to shock for the Tonganoxie High football team in an absurd final two minutes of play before halftime.
Tonganoxie went ahead, 19-7, on a 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Hayden Robbins to wide receiver Elijah Tyner with 2 minutes left before halftime and Tonganoxie getting the ball to start the third quarter.
On Chanute’s next possession, the Blue Comets connected for a 42-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ty Bowman to wide receiver Corbett Kimberlinand and the score was 19-14 with 24.5 seconds left before halftime.
On Tonganoxie’s next possession, Robbins found a backpedaling Drake Pray with double coverage 55 yards down the field.
With 3.3 seconds left on the Chanute 15-yard-line, THS had one last chance for a score before intermission.
Robbins rolled out to the right and threw a pass near the end zone.
But Chanute’s Lane Harvey was there to pick off Robbins’ pass. The senior ran the pick back 99 yards with no time left on the clock and the Chieftains trailed, 21-19, heading into halftime.
Tonganoxie, though, would respond with a dominating third quarter and then eventually hang on for a 48-36 victory.
The Chieftains relied on their bread and butter — the ground game — to take back the lead in the third quarter.
On the team’s opening drive after halftime, THS marched 71 yards on eight plays — six of them first downs — for the 27-21 lead. Pray ran in for a 12-yard touchdown and then Riedel scored the two-point conversion on a shovel pass.
Just 28 seconds of game clock later, Tonganoxie scored again. THS recovered a Chanute fumble and started the drive on the Blue Comet 35 after a personal foul on the fumble play. Tonganoxie got another first down on a big run and another personal foul. And then on first and goal from the 10, Riedel scored on another rushing touchdown. A misdirection play in the backfield helped Pray score the two-point conversion easily and as quickly as Tonganoxie had lost the lead, it once again had a two-score advantage at 35-21.
After the teams exchanged punts, Tonganoxie went 57 yards on eight plays. Riedel scored on a four-yard run and Ethan Jacks added the extra point. Tonganoxie had its biggest lead at 42-21.
THS outscored Chanute, 23-0, in the third quarter, but the Blue Comets would respond.
Kimberlin scored on a 23-yard touchdown reception and Chanute cut the lead to 42-28.
Tonganoxie again answered with a seven-play drive that started on the Chieftains’ own six-yard-line. Pray ran for a hard-fought 35-yard rush during the drive that ignited the crowd once again. Riedel eventually scored on a four-yard run. Jacks missed the extra point, and THS led, 48-28.
Chanute answered with a 56-yard screen pass play from Bowman to Briley Peavy. Tonganoxie defenders were offsides twice on point after, which helped Bowman run in on the two-point conversion and what would be the final score of 48-36.
It was a wild game in which the teams combined for 120 plays. Tonganoxie had 27 first downs to Chanute’s seven. Tonganoxie also racked up 617 total yards of offense, with nearly half of that coming from Riedel.
A week after breaking the 1,000-yard milestone for the year, Riedel rushed for 352 yards on 47 carries and three touchdowns against Chanute. He averaged 7.5 yards per carry. Pray added 101 yards to rushing totals and Cooper Cunnigham 10.
Of Tonganoxie’s 617 total yards, 463 were on the ground. Chanute relied on the passing game, as the team had 275 yards of total offense — 270 through the air.
Robbins went 8-for-14 with 154 passing yards, two touchdowns and the interception. Tyner was the recipient of both of the touchdown catches.
Defensively, Pray led the team with eight tackles (three solo). Jessie Collier had six (two solo), while Riedel and Cole Sample each had five (three solo each).
Collier, Dallas Bond and Tucker Isaacs each registered a sack.
Sample also recovered a fumble.
Isaacs’ sack came during Chanute’s first touchdown drive.
The Blue Comets faced a third-and-goal from the 19 after Isaacs took down Bowman for a nine-yard loss.
Bowman, though, found tight end Garrett Almond in the end zone on a well-executed play-action pass and Chanute tied up the game, 7-7.
The Chieftains now have won seven straight games after starting the season 0-2.
Next up for Tonganoxie is Paola, the only Frontier League foe the Chieftains didn’t play during the regular season.
Paola (8-1) defeated Baldwin (2-7) in the Panthers’ playoff game.
Tonganoxie and Paola will play at 7 p.m. Friday in Paola.
Run, run, run
Riedel’s career-high single-game output of 352 yards on the ground was pretty impressive.
He continues to lead Class 4A rushers with 1,395 yards on the season.
Bonner Springs’ Bryce Krone is second with 1,313 yards and McPherson’s Jace Kinnamon has 1,309 yards.
Next week we will take a closer look at how the THS senior’s stats stack up to former Chieftains and state records.
Tonganoxie 48, Chanute 36
Chanute 0 21 0 15 — 36
Tonganoxie 7 12 23 6 — 48