Aquinas edges Blue Valley to stay alive
By Jim Bradford PrepsKC Senior Writer
St. Thomas Aquinas took what Blue Valley gave them Friday night.
And as it turns out, The Saints took care of the Tigers at Blue Valley, edging the defending state runner ups 23-22 to advance to next week’s Class 5A sub-state final against Bishop Miege. The underdog Stags knocked off BV West 38-37 in overtime Friday night.
“This is such a great win,” said Saints head coach Mike Thomas. “We got down early and were able to battle back.”
The win over Blue Valley is the Saints (10-1) first in four years and ends the Tigers’ chances to advance to the Class 5A state championship game for the third year in a row. They won the title in 2010 and took second last year.
The Tigers took the Saints running game away in the first half, so Danten Cosentino took to the air.
“We challenged them at halftime,” Thomas said. “We knew we could set up the run with the pass and at the same time, we try to set up the pass with the run.”
The Saints were able to get just enough of what they needed through the air in the first half. Costentino came just short of 100 yards through the air in the first 24 minutes while the Saints jumped out to a 9-7 lead on the leg of Ryan Weese, whose three field goals were the only offense.
“We had to make some adjustments after the first quarter,” Cosentino said. “We knew we could do it, it was just a matter of getting things going.”
A defensive battle turned into a bit of a track meet in the second half. After just one touchdown was scored in the first half, each team scored a pair of touchdowns in about a six-minute stretch.
And with each score, the lead changed hands.
Blue Valley reclaimed the lead on a 1-yard run by Henry McGrew with 5:36 to play in the third quarter.
Aquinas scored just one minute later when Nick Williams scored on a nifty 60-yard run off of an option toss from Cosentino. He took the toss, slipped between two Blue Valley defenders bounced off another, spun around and side-stepped to his right before taking a couple of steps backward. He then saw some daylight to the right and sprinted to the end zone to put the Saints up 16-14.
“There was a fire in our team’s heart tonight,” Williams said. “We just had to get things going.”
That’s exactly what they did.
The Tigers answered with a Logan Brettell to Mikey Henson 5-yard touchdown pass. A two-point conversion put the Tigers up 22-16.
About two minutes later, the Saints went up for good on another nice run, this one by Cosentino. He faked an option run to the right and went back to the left and out raced a couple of defenders to the end zone for the go ahead score.
The Saints bent a bit late on defense. They allowed the Tigers to convert on a fourth-and-1 from their own 41 with 4:52 to play, but the Tigers came up short on a fourth-down play three minutes later when a Brettell pass was batted away by Aquinas corner Regan Nachbar with 1:58 to play.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way these kids played tonight,” Tigers head coach Eric Driskell said. “We ask them to fight hard for 48 minutes and that’s what they did tonight.”
Blue Valley got on the board first, capitalizing an early Aquinas miscue. After Jalen Cooks jumped on a Consentino fumble when he was sacked by Caleb Kjergaard, Brettell hooked up with Mikey Henson on a fade to the right corner of the end zone from 17 yards out on the Tigers first play of the game.
It would be the first of very few first half plays. The Saints controlled the clock in the opening 24 minutes, winning the time of possession battle 16:12 to 7:48.
The Saints used a clock-melting drive at the tail end of the first quarter and ito the second quarter to get on the board for the first time on Ryan Weese 36-yard field goal. The 18-play drive went 80 yards and lasted more than seven minutes.
The Saints inched even closer to the lead when Weese connected on a 32-yard field goal with 4:20 to go in the first half.
They finally grabbed the lead as the clock expired when Weese connected form 45 yards out to put Aquinas up 9-7 at the break. Weese was handling he kicking duties for just the second game.
Two of their field goals came off of Blue Valley turnovers.
“We had a couple of mistakes in the first half,” Driskell said. “We made one more mistake then they did and it hurt us, especially when you look at the final and it’s a one-point game.”
Williams finished the night with 132 yards on 16 carries. All but 11 of those yards came after halftime.
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