Blue Valley survives on blocked field goal
By Dean Backes PrepsKC staff writer
On a mistake riddled night Blue Valley made just enough plays when they needed to, to secure a narrow 14-13 win over Eastern Kansas League rival Blue Valley Northwest and keep its record clean just before the start of district play.
Last week the Tigers (6-0) tallied 63 first half points on route to a 77-6 win over conference foe Blue Valley North. But Thursday was another story. Penalties and special teams’ lapses kept the defending state champion Tigers from getting untracked and playing to their reputation.
You know we made a lot of mistakes and a lot of things didn’t bounce our way early, Blue Valley coach Eric Driskell said We didn’t handle adversity very well. So hopefully were going to learn from that, make strides in that and take the steps to get better.
The Tigers stepped up and made a crucial play with one minute, one second left in the game, allowing the top-ranked Class 5A team in Kansas to hold onto and keep its one-point advantage.
With Blue Valley Northwest facing fourth and goal from the Blue Valley nine-yard line, Tiger assistant coach Rick McNerlin devised a plan to block the Husky kick. A swarm of Tigers came off the edge and swallowed up Blue Valley Northwest’s attempt at pulling the upset and Kyle Zimmerman took two knees to run out the clock.
“We wanted to go for the block,” Driskell said. “so we set it up and three guys came off the edge and did a great job of making the play.”
On their first two possessions, Blue Valley Northwest was forced to punt. Each time the Huskies recovered Tiger fumbles on the return. On the first return, the ball bounced and hit one of Blue Valleys return guys allowing Blue Valley Northwest to fall on the ball. Then three plays later deja vu struck giving the Huskies possession at the Blue Valley 25.
The Tiger defense stymied the Husky offense, however, and Blue Valley took over at its own 33-yard line still clinging to a shutout and the tie game.
Disaster in the kicking game struck for Blue Valley Northwest as well. Shortly after blocking a 31-yard field goal attempt by Blue Valley to maintain a 7-7 tie, Blue Valley Northwest took over on its own 36-yard line.
Austin Moses pulled in a short Fugate pass over the middle and weaved his way through traffic to the right sideline before being tackled at the Blue Valley four, setting up Fugate’s four-yard scoring run on the next play to put the hosts up 13-7 with 3:58 left in the third quarter.
But Mason Gaddy’s PAT kick missed leaving the door open for Blue Valley to rebound and steal the win with a touchdown and the extra point.
Blue Valley did just that with 10:21 left in the contest when Austin Katsorelos latched onto a Kyle Zimmerman aerial over the middle and raced to pay dirt from 23 yards out and Austin Johnsons PAT kick gave the Tigers their first lead of the game.
“We’ll take it,” Driskell said of his team’s sixth win in six tries. “Hats off to Blue Valley Northwest. What a great squad. What a passionate group of kids that played their butts off. Hats off to them and their coaching staff.”
Blue Valley Northwest (3-3) opened the scoring in the second quarter with an 84-yard drive that would have ended with a Husky field goal attempt had Blue Valley not been called for encroachment. The penalty gave the Huskies new life at the Tiger 11.
On third and nine Fugate found Dante Starks on the left sideline for a gain to just outside the Tiger one. On fourth and one from the one, the senior quarterback hit tight end Brennan Boland for the score. Gaddy nailed the PAT and the Huskies led 7-0 with 4:12 left before halftime.
It was short lived however when on the first play from scrimmage on Blue Valleys ensuing possession, Justin Fulks raced to the end zone from 67 yards out, allowing Austin Johnsons kick to tie the score once again with 3:14 left before intermission.
Fulks, who rushed for 140 yards and one score on 15 carries, was injured in the third quarter and on crutches following the game. Driskell was unsure of the injury following the contest. Matt Floyd stepped up and rushed for 83 yards on 14 carries.
Zimmerman completed 10 of 12 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. His counterpart, Fugate, threw for 208 yards and was credited with one score rushing and one score throwing.
Blue Valley opens district play with a visit to St. Thomas Aquinas next week, while the Huskies will host Olathe South in hopes of pulling an upset.
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