LINDSBORG — The Hesston High School football team went into Friday’s game against unbeaten Smoky Valley with one key component out.
The Swathers lost another one late in the game. Hesston was still able to create some mayhem before falling to the Vikings 22-14 at Anderson Field in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs.
Smoky Valley running back Cort Elliott had 32 carries for 231 yards and two touchdowns. Tim Lambert had 31 carries for 154 yards.
The Swather defense was able to keep the 10-0 Vikings in check by forcing five turnovers.
“I am so proud of these guys,” Hesston coach Tyson Bauerle said. “They played so hard. They played their hardest. (Elliott) is a great runner. He outweighs most of our defense. He seemed to fall forward on every play. We had the ball and we had opportunities. I didn’t always make the right call to give us the best chances, but the kids played so hard.”
Running back Parker Roth was out with an injury suffered last week against Wichita Collegiate. Quarterback Cameron Cox went down in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.
Cameron Cox finished the game with 20 carries for 73 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He hit 15 of 26 passes for 86 yards. Jacob Eilert finished the game behind center, hitting three of seven passes for 22 yards.
“Our guys, regardless of the situation, played hard,” Bauerle said. “Whoever was in the game was ready to go.”
Each team mounted a long, time consuming drive to start the game with each drive ending on a lost fumble. Smoky completed a long drive on its second possession, scoring on a 26-yard Elliott run. Elliott also ran in the two-point conversion.
Hesston used a long kickoff return to set up a four-yard touchown run for Cameron Cox. The two-point conversion pass missed.
Hesston recovered another fumble deep in Smoky Valley territory. On fourth and 16 on the Viking 17, Cox appeared to throw a pass to Blake Bollinger just outside the one-yard line and inches short of a first down, but a pass interference penalty was called against the Vikings (which doesn’t carry an automatic first down in high school), giving the Swathers the ball on the nine. Cox was stopped for no gain on the play.
The Vikings then went 91 yards in 14 plays, scoring on a one-yard Elliott run. Lambert ran in the two-point conversion.
Hesston got to the 35, where the Swathers turned the ball over on downs. Bollinger intercepted the ball on the next play, but time had expired.
Hesston stopped a long Smoky Valley drive with a fumble. Hesston went three and out on its first possession of the second half, but the Swathers recovered a bad pitch two plays later, setting up a 10-yard Cameron Cox run. Cameron Cox ran in the two-point conversion.
The Swathers recovered the on-side kick at the Viking 46, but was unable to take advantage. Smoky Valley went 99 yards in 18 plays, scoring on a four-yard Raleigh Wilson run with 9:11 to play. The two-point conversion run was short. Lambert was injured on the drive.
Cameron Cox was injured on the next drive. Hesston gave up the ball on downs at the Viking 30 with 5:53 remaining.
Hesston stopped the Vikings at the Hesston 47 with 3:21 to play, but a Carson Windholz interception allowed Smoky to run out the clock.
Smoky Valley will face unbeaten Pratt next week in a clash of the unbeaten Central Kansas League co-champs.
The Swathers end the season 6-4. Hesston loses eight seniors from a class that went to the playoffs in each of those four years and reached the state finals as sophomores.
“We need to heal up first,” Bauerle said. “Then we’ll sit down and get a game plan figured out.”
2q. SV Elliott 26-yd. run (Elliott run) 11:55
2q. H C.Cox 4-yd. run (pass failed) 10:00
2q. SV Elliott 1-yd. run (Lambert run) :47.8
3q. H C.Cox 10-yd. run (C.Cox) 5:18
4q. SV Wilson 4-yd. run (run failed) 9:11
Time of poss.;21:29;26:31
RUSHING — Hesston: C.Cox 20-73, Arnold 4-37, Eilert 1-(-4). Smoky Valley: Elliott 32-231, Lambert 31-154, Schrag 8-29, Wilson 2-12.
PASSING — Hesston: C.Cox 15-26-1, 86 yards; Eilert 3-7-0, 22 yards. Smoky Valley: Schrag 0-2-1, 0 yards.
RECEIVING — Hesston: Toews 6-38, Bollinger 4-35, B.Cox 5-28, Eilert 1-3, Arnold 1-(-1). Smoky Valley: none.
Missed field goals — none.