Imagine Renaissance gets first playoff win
By Shawn Roney Special to PrepsKC
Pembroke Hill couldn’t stifle Imagine Renaissance Academy’s ground game Wednesday night.
A stout, chilly autumn wind and a constant downpour couldn’t either.
Led by quarterback Laron Cummings and running back Kewuan Riley, the Warriors unofficially rushed for 359 yards and five touchdowns en route to crushing the Raiders 50-26 in Class 3 sectional action at Truman High School.
When asked how his team had managed to run the ball in the elements, Warriors coach Terry McCray replied: “Perseverance. The kids didn’t quit. They played hard.”
Cummings, who contributed two rushing touchdowns and threw for another, attributed Renaissance’s rushing success to the offensive linemen.
“They did what they needed to do,” he said. “And they got off the ball and we played hard.”
Preparation also might have been a factor. The Warriors (7-4) “practiced through the cold weather” before kickoff to “see what it really felt like,” Riley said.
Riley helped the Warriors establish their ground game in the first quarter by ripping off an 82-yard run to put them at the Pembroke Hill 6-yard line. Renaissance eventually lost the ball on downs, but used the scoring threat and a defensive stand to create a short field for their first scoring drive, capped by Riley’s 29-yard TD run and a Renaissance two-point conversion pass with 11:01 left in the second quarter.
An interception return for a touchdown and another two-point conversion made it 16-0 Renaissance with 7:57 left in the opening quarter. After Riley Freitag answered for Pembroke Hill with a 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, Riley ripped off a 19-yard TD run and Cummings added a two-point conversion run with 5:10 left. Cummings then tossed a 30-yard TD pass to Keron Evans with 4:53 left.
“We sent our slot receiver deep because the safety came up,” Cummings said. “He blitzed up, so we just sent him (Evans) deep and he was wide open.”
Riley’s 20-yard TD run with 24 seconds left made it 36-6 Renaissance. Despite having a 30-point halftime lead, the Warriors didn’t feel comfortable, Riley suggested.
“Once we got the score up and knew we could stop them on defense, (we knew) we just had to keep on fighting,” he said.
During the second half, the Warriors had to fight through a scoring surge by the Raiders, who used back-to-back to TD passes to cap their first two possessions and cut Renaissance’s lead to 36-18. Pembroke Hill coach Sam Knopik said the Raiders’ ability to score through the air was in keeping with “another rule of football.”
“(If) you put 10 guys in the box (on defense), you’re going to throw a forward pass (on offense) – wet conditions or no,” Knopik stated. “I’m glad we were able to hook those up. That was kind of a nice answer for us to try to create something.”
Cummings created something for Renaissance by ripping off a 70-yard TD run with 8:22 left in the fourth quarter. Charlie Mueller’s 1-yard TD run with 6:21 to play gave the Raiders their final score. A 1-yard TD run and two-point conversion run with 2:51 left finished off the Raiders and secured the Warriors’ meeting with O’Hara at 7 p.m. Nov. 7 at O’Hara.
“I’ve seen them on film. They’ve got two good receivers, a good quarterback and a good running back,” McCray said of the Celtics.
In finishing off Pembroke Hill, Renaissance ended the Raiders’ season at 7-4.
“This is a special group,” Knopik said. “Lot of tears in there (in the locker room) tonight. The bond that this particular group of boys had was outstanding, which makes (the) kind of a finish like (we had) tonight hurt more.”
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