SOLOMON, Kan.—The Kiowa County Maverick football team did not feel very welcome in the Solomon Gorilla jungle Tuesday evening.
The Gorillas were a welcome host for a lot of the game, but whenever the Mavericks crossed Solomon’s end zone, the Gorillas quickly took away the welcome mat.
“We came out to play and they came out to play,” Solomon head coach Tim Cross said. “It was just a knock down, drag out tough game. Both teams played really hard. Those extra points really came out to be something big. We were fortunate that we were able to make a few of them.”
For the game, Kiowa County outgained Solomon 255-202 rushing the football but Solomon outgained the Mavericks through the air 74-12.
But the Gorillas only maintained possession of the ball for two plays as on the second play from scrimmage Solomon’s Mason DeMars fumbled the ball and Kiowa County’s Creighton McDonald recovered at the Gorilla 39-yard line.
It took Kiowa County just two plays to cover those 39 yards as on second down Maverick quarterback Trever Powell scrambled for 35 yards and the game’s first touchdown.
But then the thing that haunted Kiowa County all game long, the point-after attempt, bit the Mavericks as their run attempt at the 2-point conversion was held short and they led just 6-0 with 10:29 remaining in the first quarter.
“Those were pretty big,” Cross said of the 2-point conversions. “Those kept us up when they would come back they kept us up a couple of points. It kept us fighting to maintain the lead.”
Solomon, which advances to the second round of the 8-Man I playoffs where they will play host to Hodgeman County on Saturday night, outscored the Mavericks 24-6 over the remainder of the first half to take control of the game.
The two teams traded punts on the ensuing possessions before Solomon put together a 13-play, 65-yard drive which was punctuated with a 1-yard plunge by Daniel Durant with 0:05 remaining in the first quarter.
But the Gorillas began the game struggling on their point-after attempts and their run at the 2-point conversion was also no good as the game stood tied at 6-6.
The knotted score did not last very long however as Kiowa County’s Powell returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown, but once again the Mavericks missed on the 2-point conversion and led 12-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Solomon controlled the action in the second quarter as the Gorillas scored three unanswered touchdowns as DeMars and Durant each scored on 5-yard runs and quarterback Colton Shirack scored on a 15-yard run with 2:47 remaining in the first half . All three touchdowns, however, were followed by missed PATs and Solomon led 24-12 at intermission.
“We thought maybe after we got up a few they might roll over or let up a little bit and they didn’t let up, they just kept playing hard,” Cross said. “They were a tough team. They hit hard. We came out and we hit hard too. It was just a battle the whole way.”
At half Solomon had 148 yards rushing led by Demars’ 63 on 14 carries while Kiowa County had 63 rushing yards led by McDonald’s 52 yards on 11 carries. Neither team had any passing yards in the first half.
The offenses for both teams dictated the action in the second half with the lone exception coming from the Gorillas’ defense which scored off a 20-yard interception return by DeMars with 1:22 remaining in the game, which for all intents and purposes sealed the Solomon victory.
Kiowa County scored on 2 and 62-yard runs by Powell and a 4-yard run by McDonald in the second half, but failed on the 2-point conversion each time.
Solomon, meanwhile, scored on a 33-yard pass to DeMars, a 17-yard pass to Durant and a 10-yard pass to Caleb Lang all from Shirack.
Shirack also found Blake Hommon twice on 2-point conversion passes.
For the game Shirack went 4-of-11 with one interception and three touchdowns and 74 yards. Schriack also ran for 65 yards on 12 carries as he accounted for 139 of Solomon’s 276 yards of total offense.
Powell led the way for Kiowa County with 124 yards on 27 carries. McDonald had 91 yards on 7 carries.
“We just have to keep playing hard and work on our offense,” Cross said of Saturday night’s game against Hodgeman County. “Keep on our offense and work on our passing. … it is going to be real nice to be at home, I’d much rather be at home than to travel to play.”