Stewart caught the 15-yard pass, adeptly twirled his way around his defender, and outran the remaining Goddard coverage to the endzone.
“I had to keep my confidence up and catch the ball when it was thrown to me,” Stewart said. “I thought both our offense and our defense played really well tonight.”
That was only Maize’s fifth touchdown of the night, which made the score 35-7. The Eagles would score four more touchdowns during the second half.
The Eagles dominated the field both offensively and defensively Friday night, taking down Goddard 62-19 during the Lions’ Homecoming game.
Goddard turnovers and tough defense helped Maize soar during the first half. The Eagles recovered two fumbles from the Lions’ offense, and the offense eventually turned them into points, scoring three touchdowns within three minutes during the first quarter.
The Lions tried to keep pace with Maize, but it wasn’t until the eighth minute of the game that Goddard—already down 21-0—was forced to punt on fourth down, and a bad snap left the ball back in Goddard’s own end zone. But punter Court Roland picked the ball up, pushed off the defenders, and ran for the first down.
That resurrected drive gave Goddard a chance to score its first touchdown, making the game 21-7.
After that, though, the pace of the game stayed in Maize’s favor.
The Maize defense executed coverage well against the Lions, forcing punts on most of their drives. Goddard’s offense committed a few more turnovers, including a dropped reception in the third quarter that was returned to the two-yard line.
With eight minutes left in the third quarter, Goddard scored its second touchdown on a long pass from quarterback Collin Nevil to receiver Joey SanMiguel. On the following kick-off, Maize’s Stewart returned the long kick-off almost 85 yards for another touchdown and a 42-13 score.
“I was just reading the blocks and going with the flow,” Stewart said of the kick-off return. “Coming across the middle—that was scary, because I was afraid I would get hit really hard.”
Goddard’s punts on subsequent drives gave the Eagles great field position, and they scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter. Both teams scored one touchdown a piece in the fourth quarter, making the final score 62-19.
Maize coach Gary Guzman said he was happy with his team—offense, defense, and special teams—for playing effectively, but said his team still has to continue improving.
“We’ve got to prepare for every game the same way, because we’re in a very tough league,” Guzman said. “If you’re not ready to play, you’re going to get beat. As far as I’m concerned, there are no easy wins in our league.”
Guzman said, as the season is reaching its halfway point, he keeps reminding his team of their goal to be nearly perfect by the time district play arrives.
“You hope to be playing pretty well by the time you get to your first district game,” he said, “and that’s what we’re working for every day, with every practice and every game.”
For Goddard, the loss is tougher than usual, as it was the Lions’ homecoming game, and senior quarterback Nevil was crowned Homecoming King before the game.
“We all played hard until the end; we didn’t give up and didn’t quit,” Nevil said. “We tried to improve for next week and make the best of the situation. Take no plays off.”
As he was on his way to the homecoming dance after the game, Nevil said he wished the game had ended differently, but still appreciated his teammates’ dedication.
“I think we showed a lot of pride and played a tough game,” he said. “Homecoming was a great experience. It wasn’t easy to lose to Maize—it never is. But, I was proud to be out there on the field with those guys.”
Maize will host Salina Central next Friday for its Homecoming game, and Goddard will play at Maize South.