Another classic

Debbie Squires/PrepsKC

By Steve Bubalo PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: September 22, 2017 - 11:13 PM

When Blue Springs and Rockhurst get together on the football field you never know what might happen. Friday night, the Hawklets had every fan of the home team at Peve Stadium nervous they were about to overcome a 21-0 deficit and send the game into overtime.

But the Hawklets, after capitalizing on a pair of Wildcat mistakes, made one of their own. After driving into Wildcat territory, quarterback Derek Green wasn’t ready for the shotgun snap that came his way and it hit his leg and bounced forward. Blue Springs’ Nikko Manning pounced on the ball and they would hold on for a 21-14 win.

“If we’re going to be a championship team, you have to fight through adversity,” Blue Springs cornerback Azaiah Bello said. “That’s what we have to do.”

That adversity has come in the way of back-to-back losses earlier in the month, as well as back-to-back turnovers Friday night.

But before the adversity, Bello had what would end up being the game’s biggest play.

Before the half, with Blue Springs leading 14-0, Rockhurst was putting together its best drive of the game. On third-and-8, Green overthrew his intended receiver and Bello intercepted the pass.

“I knew the wide side of the field was on the right, so I acted like I was going left and then went right,” Bello said.

Bello had room to run on the right side of the field and he had a wall of blockers.

“That was a lot of fun. The effort of his brothers on those blocks was big,” Blue Springs head coach Kelly Donohoe said.

A few times it looked like the Hawklets might take Bello down but he ended up rumbling all 90 yards for the score and a 21-0 lead with less than a minute before halftime.

“If it’s 14-7 it’s a whole different ball game,” Donohoe said of the momentum swing. “That’s the play of the game.”

Added defensive lineman Daniel Parker, “Everybody on the sideline and the fans had so much energy after that play.”

The Wildcats would hold that momentum into the third quarter with a dominating defensive performance before the tide started to turn. Rockhurst’s Joshua Moore intercepted a Chase Donohoe pass deep in Rockhurst territory. The Hawklets’ offense drove down the field and scored on a 37-yard run by Green. On the Wildcats’ next possession, they were in the midst of a long, time-consuming drive when a bad snap scooted by Donohoe. Rockhurst’s Tommy Eckels scooped it up and went 55 yards for a score. All of a sudden, it was 21-14.

After the Hawklets’ defense forced a three-and-out, it was all on the Wildcat defense, with Manning saving the day on a heads-up play.

“I’m proud of the defense to step up when we needed them to,” Donohoe said.

The Wildcat defense shackled the Hawklets for most of the game. The offense gave them a cushion, scoring on back-to-back drives in the first half, once on a 21-yard touchdown run from Michael Warmack and again on a 60-yard pass from Donohoe to Tre Wheaton to make it 14-0 early in the second quarter.

The defensive line of Blue Springs was a force from the get-go. They were able to corral Hawklets standout running back Brady McCanles and were breathing down Green’s neck all night.

“Our motto is that our front seven against anybody else’s front seven, we can stop them on any given night,” Parker said. “We were in his (Green) face all night. That’s what we like to do.”

On Bello’s interception, Parker got a hand up to help force the errant throw.

“It’s a lot easier,” Bello said of the secondary’s job with such a dominant front seven. “When you get pressure on the quarterback, that forces bad passes, and that’s what happened.”

The Wildcats have now won two straight and are 4-2, as are the Hawklets. Blue Springs will travel to Lee’s Summit North next week, while Rockhurst will host Pomona of Arvda, Co.