Tonganoxie tops Basehor for district title
By Adam Sullivan PrepsKC staff writer
The atmosphere was electric for a Thursday night football game between Tonganoxie and Basehor-Linwood. The air was cool and crisp, and a playoff spot was on the line. Tonganoxie would overcome an 11-point deficit to beat Basehor-Linwood 18-11 and claim a district championship.
Tonganoxie head coach Al Troyer said the Chieftans came into the game with one thing on their mind.
“We’ve been telling them all season long that defense wins championships, and we just brought home a district title,” Troyer said.
The Chieftans had to shut down one of the top offenses in 4A, and one of the top receivers in Ben Johnson.
“We knew they’d target him all night, we just tried to stick our tallest defender on him and contain him as much as we could,” Troyer said after the victory.
Turnovers would plague both teams from the start in this one as Basehor-Linwood’s quarterback Tanner Garver fumbled on the Bobcats opening drive. After both teams traded punts Tonganoxie would give the Bobcats a turnover right back. Running back Cole Holloway was stripped at the Bobcat 46 yard line giving Basehor-Linwood another chance to strike first.
After a long three minute drive led by big runs from Drew Potter including a 41-yard run, the Bobcats would attempt a field goal. Kicker Gage Wiser would miss the kick swinging the momentum back to Tonganoxie.
Basehor-Linwood would get the ball back after forcing a punt and finally put some points on the board. With nine minutes, two seconds remaining in the second quarter when Garver found a streaking Johnson across the end zone for the touchdown. Garver would again find Johnson on the same play converting the two-point conversion giving Basehor-Linwood an 8-0 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff Tonganoxie was unable to get a hold of the ball as it rolled down to the 9-yard line, eventually being covered up by Basehor-Linwood giving the Bobcats a chance to break this one open. But like they did all night the Tonganoxie defense would hold. This time forcing another field goal, but with the wind at his back Wiser would connect putting Basehor-Linwood ahead 11-0.
From that point on it was all Chieftains as the next possession they would march down with runs by Holloway, and Shane Levy knocking four minutes off the clock eventually capped off by a 19-yard run by Holloway. A two-yard pass from Tyler Ford to Levy on the two point try would close the gap to 11-8 with 2:34 left in the half.
A late fieldgoal by Eric Tate would tie things up at 11-11 heading into the half.
“I knew we needed to play a better second half, and just keep fighting,” Troyer said about the halftime adjustments.
With 3:15 left to go in the third quarter Tonganoxie had the ball at the Basehor-Linwood 5-yard line threatening to take the lead. Levy took the handoff and was met by a wall of Bobcat defenders who managed to jar the ball free and cover it forcing their second turnover of the night.
Tonganoxie would answer the call as they forced a fumble right back. Broc Lindsay for Basehor-Linwood would catch a pass and get crushed by a Tonganoxie defender knocking the ball free, giving the Chieftains the ball back at the 40-yard line. Three minutes later Holloway walked in on a 5-yard touchdown run putting the Chieftains ahead 18-11 with 11:56 left in the game.
After forcing a Bobcat punt Tonganoxie would get the ball back with a chance to ice the game. They’d march all the way down to the four-yard line of Basehor-Linwood, but the fumble bug plagued them again. Holloway who had been stellar the whole night let the ball slip out of his hands giving Basehor-Linwood the ball back with 6:08 left.
“Our defense responded so well tonight,” Troyer said. “After the two fumbles in the red zone we could have easily caved, but they kept fighting and really held on for us.”
Basehor-Linwood would get two more chances to tie things up, but were forced to punt on one possession, and turned it over on downs in the second. On that second possession Basehor-Linwood had no timeouts and took over with a minute left in the game. After completing a pass to Ben Johnson, the Bobcats were unable to get out of bounds eventually ending the game at 18-11 and giving Tonganoxie a district championship.
“This means everything to our program, it was just a hard fought win for everybody here tonight,” Troyer said.
The Tonganoxie students would rush the field after the win and join the football players at midfield chanting district champs. For Basehor-Linwood the season ends in heartbreak as they’ll miss the 4A state playoffs.
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