Bag of tricks can’t slow tough Tongie
De Soto left it all on the field Friday night.
Coach Brad Scott emptied his bag of tricks, employing onside kicks, fake punts, and even the classic hook-and-ladder play.
The team hadn't played so hard all season, punishing Tonganoxie's three-headed running attack with vicious hits and unseen intensity.
And when the Wildcats were still eight points short after the last pass fell incomplete, Scott couldn't contain it anymore.
Pushed to the brink by a series of calls the Cats deemed questionable, Scott ran on the field yelling at the officiating crew. He drew three quick penalties before being ejected from the game.
Tonganoxie took possession of the ball with less than three seconds remaining and took a knee, preserving a 30-22 win.
The loss essentially eliminated De Soto from postseason play, but before the outburst Scott said the team had plenty to take pride in.
"That was definitely our best effort," he said. "I was so proud of the way we played."
De Soto lost, but it came within a few missed opportunities of pulling off a major upset.
The tone of the game was set when Tonganoxie opted for an onside kick on the opening kick off.
De Soto recovered on its own 42-yard line and wasted little time making the Chieftains pay for the gamble.
Tonganoxie opted for an onside kick and De Soto recovered with its own 42-yard line.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Morse found Tyler Farmer open for a 38-yard pass on the first play.
One play later Neil Erisman, starting his second game at tailback, picked his way 20-yards for a touchdown.
Tonganoxie quickly answered after De Soto failed on an onside kick attempt of its own, Matt Drake running in from 34 yards, but the Cats reeled off another powerful drive.
Erisman galloped for 31 yards on five carries and another Morse-to-Farmer pass, this one for 27 yards, set up a 3-yard quarterback keeper for the score.
The Morse-to-Farmer pass, first seen in the Oct. 15 loss to Perry, was essential to the drives and Erisman's addition to the backfield helped stabilize the Wildcat offense.
"Neil ran the ball very, very well," Scott said. "He really brought something to the table that we haven't had in a couple weeks, which is yardage from the tailback position."
The torrid scoring pace was something entirely new for De Soto, and it couldn't sustain it into the second quarter.
Jordan Smith blunted a Chieftain drive with a big hit on a fourth-and-two run and Erisman stopped another with an interception, but De Soto could only counter with three punts through the rest of the half.
Tonganoxie finally broke through to take a 17-14 lead to the half.
"We had so many opportunities," Scott said. "We just didn't take advantage of them. When you don't do that against a good football team, you're going to lose."
De Soto's inability to convert opportunities only grew more evident after the break.
Taylor Burnett recovered a Tongie fumble on the second play of the third quarter, but the Wildcats turned it back over on downs four plays later.
Smith forced another fumble on the Chieftains very next play, but the Cats again failed to convert. Morse threw an interception on third down from the Tonganoxie 23.
Tongie finally took control, driving 80 yards in 15 plays to solidify the game with a 24-14 lead.
"That was the ballgame right there," Scott said. "If we get it in the end zone there on one of those and I think we win the ball game."
Still, De Soto wasn't done.
Tonganoxie scored again to go up 30-14, but De Soto responded with an 80-yard pass for a touchdown.
Morse threw to Jake Bosnak in the flat. Just as he was hit, he tossed the ball to Shane Miller who rocketed downfield for the score.
De Soto forced a punt on Tongie's next possession and again went with the trickery, twice lining up with most of the offense against one sideline, Erisman standing behind the center at midfield.
The play was ruined both times when the ball was snapped over the quarterbacks head.
Morse threw incomplete on third down, and again on fourth as De Soto came up empty on its last chance to tie the score.
"Tongie's a good football team. There's a reason they're 7-1," Scott said. "When they give you those chances, you have to make them pay. We didn't take advantage of opportunities and that's the bottom line. We have no one to blame but ourselves."