Blue Valley starts title defense with a win
By Scott Lavelock The Leavenworth Times
Blue Valley looked like the defending state champions on Friday night, putting forth a stifling defensive effort while moving the ball at will offensively against Lansing in a 56-7 victory in Class 5A state playoffs.
Blue Valley's Justin Fulks led all rushers with 111 yards while quarterback Kyle Zimmerman chipped in 97 rushing yards and backup tailback Matt Floyd came in for 56, leading the Tigers (9-1) to 399 yards of total offense. The Lions (5-5) were led by 91 rushing yards and a touchdown from Nick Hughes, but they were held to just 61 yards of offense otherwise in the loss.
“They won state last year, and they could win it again this year,” Lansing head coach Bill Pekarek said of Blue Valley. “Their number two tailback (Floyd) is better than anything we've seen this year. … They've got good players.”
Lansing was able to move the ball on their first two possessions, but big plays turned the tide back in favor of the Tigers. Ryan McNerlin started the problems for Lansing by intercepting a Lion pass on the first series of the game at the Blue Valley 33-yard line, and two plays later Zimmerman broke off a quarterback scramble and out-ran the defense 67 yards for a touchdown, putting Blue Valley up for good just three minutes into the game.
The Lions got the ball inside the Tiger 30-yard line on their next possession but were stuffed on fourth and one, and afterward Lansing got virtually nothing offensively as they went three-and-out on their next six possessions.
“They were big, and we didn't win enough at the line of scrimmage,” Pekarek said.
Zimmerman, meanwhile, completed a 41-yard touchdown pass to Sean Skaggs which made it 14-0 with 3:09 left in the first quarter.
Lansing came up with a defensive stop early in the second quarter after Mike Miller stifled a drive by sacking Zimmerman for a loss of 10, but the Tigers were able to pin the Lions inside their own 10-yard line after the punt. Disaster struck when Lansing got set to punt again, as punter Christian Porter had to make a leaping, one-handed stab on a high snap, and he was forced to run with it as the rush came. He got out of the endzone but came up short of the first down, giving the Tigers great field position. They capitalized on a 1-yard touchdown run by Fulks with 9:35 left in the half.
Blue Valley scored once more just 52 seconds later as Jaxon Tupper recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, setting up an 18-yard scoring strike from Zimmerman to Jack Porter. Only 2:21 after that, the Tigers struck again on the first play of their next possession when Fulks ran 49 yards untouched into the endzone.
Fulks was shaken up and temporarily came out of the game on the Tigers' next series, but they didn't miss a beat as they put together a scoring drive cappted by a 1-yard run by Floyd. Blue Valley led 42-0 with 1:54 left in the half.
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