By Stephen Bubalo PrepsKC staff writer
With the schedule Tony Severino’s Rockhurst Hawklets have played so far this season – five ranked teams in five weeks from three different states – there’s going to be the usual ups and downs.
But Friday night at Class 6 No. 10 Blue Springs South, the Hawklets put it all together in impressive fashion for a 28-0 win.
Rockhurst was able to keep its momentum from last week’s thrilling 35-31 win over Hutchinson (Kan.) in which they scored 25 fourth-quarter points.
“I was worried after last week with how we would respond,” Severino said. “This was the game we were waiting for with the schedule we’ve been playing.”
Severino’s worries were put to rest in the first half, especially from the third drive of the game when Ahmad Tyler – the usual starting quarterback who was out last week with a concussion – entered the game and immediately led two scoring drives.
Tyler did some damage with his legs but most of it was with his arm. The Hawklets were able to rip off big chunks of yards through the air, including 26- and 19-yard scores from Tyler to Harrison Lanning and Connor Kuhlmann, respectively, to make it 14-0 in the second quarter.
“I just wanted to make sure I executed the plays right and protected the ball,” Tyler said of entering the game off the bench, as he finished the game 7-of-9 for 112 yards. “I was in a nice rhythm after that first pass. I felt relaxed and everything fell into place.
“We saw on film that their safeties and corners would come up on the play action.”
With less than 2 minutes to play in the first half Rockhurst looked to pad its lead before half, this time with Trey Vickers under center, the games starter. While he struggled his first two drives, he engineered his own scoring drive, as he found Zach Nelson from 25 yards out with just 8 seconds left before halftime to make it 21-0.
Vickers finished 4-of-7 for 129 yards, including a 68-yarder to help set up a 1-yard Jack Benninghoff score in the second half.
“That touchdown before the half was the key play,” Severino said. “The quarterbacks did a great job putting the ball on the money. That was the difference in the game. We were able to take away their blitz.”
From there, the defense did its job.
South’s offense hasn’t had much trouble scoring this season, especially the last two weeks when they put up 40-plus points against a pair of solid teams in Ray-Pec and Staley.
But the Hawklet defense was on a mission tonight, allowing just a handful of first downs and stuffing South on both its scoring opportunities in the red zone, forcing a missed field goal and a turnover on downs.
“We’re just looking for chemistry and we found our identity,” linebacker Tony Lashley said. “We were flying around and we found out what our defense is capable of.”
And so did the Jaguars and quarterback Dalton Brewer.
Brewer was harassed all game, going just 3-of-12 for 74 yards and was sacked three times. The biggest stop of the game came early in the third quarter when the Hawklets fumbled a punt and South recovered on Rockhurst’s 8 yard line.
But sacks from Jordan Willis and Lashley put the Jaguars in fourth-and-goal from the 20. An incompletion ended the drive and the threat, keeping the shutout intact.
“That was crazy. That set the momentum and tempo our defense has been looking for all year,” Lashley said. “We had to step up. Our goal line defense has been a weakness but we’ve been working on it a lot. It paid off.
“When the defensive line is getting after it that opens up things for the linebackers.”
Blue Springs South, now 3-2, looked like it may have righted the ship after a tough loss to Fort Osage with close wins the last two weeks, but they could never find a rhythm Friday night. Playing from behind meant they couldn’t give the ball to running back Khorey Kilgore as much as they might have liked, as he finished with 62 yards on just 11 carries.
Rockhurst, also 3-2, continues to get healthy and now has some confidence after five straight quarters of its best football of the season.
“That was a good momentum pusher. That gave us confidence knowing we can fight back,” Tyler said of the comeback win last week. “Everything is clicking on all cylinders.”
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