It takes all 48

Debbie Squires/PrepsKC

By Steve Bubalo PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: September 9, 2016 - 10:49 PM



The way the first 15 minutes of the game went for Blue Springs Friday night against Park Hill, seeing them take a knee with a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter to run out the clock didn’t seem likely.

But here the Wildcats were, celebrating a big win over the Trojans despite falling behind 18-0 early in the second quarter, as they pulled away in the second half for a 42-25 victory.

“We got it 18-14 (at the half) and felt we had some momentum,” Wildcats head coach Kelly Donohoe said. “We just told them to keep fighting. They (Park Hill) were getting tired.”

The Wildcats moved the ball at will in the second half, leaving the Park Hill defense gassed and thinking about what might have been after an impressive start.

“The first half is how we play,” Trojans head coach Josh Hood said. “We made our own mistakes in the second half. You can’t do that against a great football team. We still had chances to finish it, but we got wore down.”

Park Hill’s offensive explosion came in the first three minutes of the second quarter. Its first score came on a pass from Billy Maples to Joseph Webb from 17 yards out. Then the defense recovered back-to-back fumbles, and after each one, Maples found Damaney Johnson for touchdown passes of 10 and 5 yards, respectively. Two missed extra points and a failed two-point conversion made it 18-0 with 9 minutes, 25 seconds left before halftime.

But the Wildcats would ride Aveion Bailey to get back in the game in the first half, giving him the ball 24 times for 144 yards and two big touchdowns. His second one came on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 21 seconds left to make it 18-14.

Park Hill would extend its lead in the third quarter on a blocked punt, which T.J. Hullaby recovered for a touchdown and a 25-14 lead.

But it was all Wildcats from there.

On the ensuing drive, Bailey would exit the game with an injury, but Donohoe and the offense started to do more damage in the passing game. He would find Tanner Taula for 32 yards to begin the drive and ended the drive with a fade pass to Caleb Marquez for a 9-yard score to cut the deficit to 25-22.

A bad snap on a Park Hill punt forced a safety, making it 25-24, and once the Wildcats got the ball back they would go ahead for good, as Chase found Joey Janes on a little out-pass on fourth-and-2 that would go 39 yards for the score and a 32-25 lead.

“That’s all him,” Chase said of Janes on the catch-and-run. “I just have to get the ball in his hands. They make the plays.”

The second half saw Chase get out of the pocket a lot more and roll to his right, something he said he feels comfortable doing.

“I’ve always liked to throw on the run,” he said. “That fits my game better.”

Added Donohoe, “Chase made some big plays in the passing game. His poise was awesome.”

The offensive line would put the finishing touches on an impressive second half, leading the way for Nick Wood to come in due to Bailey’s injury and rack up some yards in the fourth quarter, as the Wildcats tacked on a 31-yard Tristin Williams field goal and 2-yard score from Wood.

“They took over,” Donohoe said of the offensive line. “We only have two seniors on the offensive line, but those others guys have played well, too, and they came out a little wide-eyed at first. Their linebackers are fast. But we made a few adjustments on some combo blocks and wore them down.”

Added Hood, “We can’t get behind. If you get behind then they’ll lay on you and use that offensive line. We have to find a way to finish.”

Not to be overlooked was the defense, which didn’t allow a score after early in the second quarter, and got two interceptions and recovered a fumble in the second half.

“The defense said, ‘no more’ at 18-0. That says a lot about them,” Donohoe said. “They did an unbelievable job in the second half. That was as big as anything. We triggered off that offensively.”

Blue Springs improved to 3-1 with the win and travels to Shawnee Mission West next, while Park Hill fell to 2-2 and will host Lawrence Free State.