Safeties spark shutout win over KC Sumner
De Soto and Sumner combined to generate reels worth of highlights and score 103 points in the first week of the season. Sure enough, there were plenty of highlights when the two 1-0 teams matched Thursday night at Art Lawrence Stadium in Kansas City, Kan.
Who would have guessed those highlights would be big hits, acrobatic interceptions and safeties?
The Wildcats improved to 2-0 thanks to two safeties, two touchdowns and a whole lot of hard hitting, beating KC Sumner Academy 18-0.
"A win is a win is a win," De Soto coach Brad Scott said. "I really take the hat off to the defense for this one."
Less than a week after every pass De Soto completed seemed to go for a touchdown and every run seemed to find a gap, the Cats struggled to move the ball all night.
Wildcat quarterback Jake Morse, 12-of-15 with four touchdowns in the first week against Ottawa, finished Thursday's game 12-of-24 for 85 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown.
Subtracting yards lost to sacks, De Soto rushed for zero yards in the first half and had just one first down.
The defense and special teams picked the team up, however.
De Soto got on the board by blocking a punt in the end zone, then dropping the punter, who caught the ball, in the end zone for a safety.
The second two-pointer came even easier. Tyler Farmer, who had a fantastic night punting the ball, boomed one over Sumner returner Rickey Randle's head. Randle retreated and fielded the ball at the seven-yard line, then ran backward into the end zone looking for a hole.
He never found it. A swarm of Wildcats blasted the returner in the end zone and the Cats took a 4-0 lead with four minutes and 10 seconds remaining in the first half.
"Our defense came to play," Scott said. "To shutout a team like that, that is probably one of the best defensive ball games, especially with all the holes our offense kept putting our defense in."
The offense finally found some room to maneuver in the second half, but it was the defense and special teams that continually set the Cats up and ensured the shutout.
Consecutive penalties crushed De Soto's opening drive of the second half and a decent punt return coupled with a several strong running plays gave Sumner its best chance to score.
The Sabers had first and 10 at the 24, but Jordan Smith stuffed running back Desmond Tallie in the backfield on first down and Smith and Erik Hill combined for a four-yard sack on second down. Sumner quarterback Terry Thomas threw incomplete on third, and the Cats took over after the punt was a touchback.
"It's all a blur," Smith said after a two-sack performance.
Smith also pinned Sumner back Ernest Shepard six yards in the backfield on the first play of the game. Tyler Farmer had a sack, Jarod Bader had two interceptions and Erik Hill had one.
"We got pressure on the quarterback," Smith said, "and the DBs did a great job to get three picks. They couldn't find an open receiver."
The Cats only managed to move it 15 yards following Sumner's deepest drive, but Farmer boomed a punt to the Sumner two-yard line. Sumner fumbled on the next play from scrimmage, however, setting up a Dustin Ester touchdown dive.
De Soto's second touchdown came on another special teams play. Sumner snapped the ball over the punter's head and six plays later Morse connected with Hill for a five-yard touchdown pass.
Ester was De Soto's leading rusher and had a great second half. After finishing the first 24 minutes three yards in the hole, he ran for 77 yards in the second half and was key in setting up the second touchdown.
"We took them out of their game plan. We saw some things on film last week that they really did well and we said, 'ya know what, we're going to take that away and make you beat us with something else.'"