ON SOLID GROUND: Tonganoxie High football breaks in new turf with big victory against Basehor-Linwood
Archrivals. Class 4A clash of top 10. New turf.
Tonganoxie High faced its biggest rival Friday. The script was hard to beat and the game itself couldn’t have played out much better. THS and Basehor-Linwood battled back and forth in the first half before Tonganoxie strung together 35 unanswered points on its way to a 49-28 victory on the first football game to be played on the new Beatty Field turf.
After forcing Basehor-Linwood to punt on its first possession, Tonganoxie drove just inside BLHS territory when junior Blake Poje threw an interception.
Basehor-Linwood would score first on its next possession, a four-yard pass play.
A few moments later, Tonganoxie tied the game and got the home crowd excited senior Elijah Tyner’s 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Senior Javier Trujillo knocked through the PAT and the game was tied.
Basehor-Linwood answered with a one-yard run from senior AJ Cooper and BLHS was back in front, 14-7, with 1:30 left in the first quarter.
That’s when the tide turned.
Poje found senior Connor Searcy for an 18-yard pass, as Searcy got the ball and rumbled into the end zone for some yards after the catch at the 9:45 mark of the second quarter. Tonganoxie scored again to make it 21-14 on another Poje-to-Searcy pass play, this time for 44 yards.
On the ensuing kickoff, Tonganoxie recovered the ball and was back on offense.
THS sophomore Sam Kleidosty eventually scored with 3:39 left before half on a 3-yard touchdown run and Tonganoxie went into the half with a 28-14 lead.
In the second half, it was the Cooper Cunningham Show for Tonganoxie. The senior running back scored on runs of 25, 51 and 13 yards, all in the fourth quarter. Trujillo, meanwhile, just missed a second-half field-goal attempt, but the soccer player connected on all seven PATs for the Chieftains.
THS coach Al Troyer said he was proud of his team on such a big night, new turf and all.
“It’s Basehor,” Troyer said. “It’s rivalry week. Both teams were excited. They were jacked.”
During the team’s first game on the new surface, which was installed this summer, Troyer also pointed out the team’s poise after halftime.
He liked how his team “responded,” especially the defense, which pitched a shutout in the third quarter after also keeping BLHS scoreless in the second quarter.
THS had 69 first downs to Basehor-Linwood’s 59.
Basehor-Linwood had more first downs (17-12) and THS more penalties and penalty yards (5 for 60 compared to 4 for 45 yards).
BLHS passed for 283 yards and rushed for a yard, while Tonganoxie had 272 rushing yards and 138 passing yards. Poje went 11-for-16 with those two touchdowns and one interception.
Cunningham had yardage to back up his scores, running for 232 yards, or 8 yards per carry.
Searcy led THS receivers with 76 yards, while junior Dallas Bond had 41 and Tyner 123.
Searcy also led the team in tackles with seven, while senior Cole Sample, Kleidosty, Cunningham and Bond each had four total tackles. Junior Heston Robbins registered a tackle for loss for Tonganoxie. Sample added a sack and Bond two more.
Bond also was credited with a fumble recovery, though it might have been an interception as the ball went into Bond’s arms at point-blank range near the line of scrimmage and never touched the ground.
THS avenged last year’s 42-6 loss to Basehor-Linwood and will look to flip last year’s Week 2 results also. Louisburg won the matchup last year, 27-7. Troyer expects a tough LHS team again this year when the teams meet at 7 p.m. Friday in Louisburg. The Wildcats lost their opener, 27-24, to Spring Hill.