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Hays pulls off wild finish against Maize South

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 11:08 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - A 20-0 start by Hays Friday evening gave no indication of the wild finish that was to come against Maize South. The Indians led 26-14 at the half and 32-29 early in the fourth quarter. After seven touchdowns in 12 minutes - nearly eight - Hays survived 47-43.

“We did not, by any stretch of the imagination, think we were going to roll away with that game at 20-0,” said Hays coach Tony Crough. “We really didn’t. That’s a program that has won for a good 10 years. They know how to win. They’re not going to quit on you. They’re not going to give you a game. You’re going to have to beat them.”

Maize South took its first lead of the night just 53 seconds into the final period on a 72-yard pass play from Owen Bailey to a wide-open Sammy Dresie running down the sideline. The Mavs pulled ahead 29-26.

Hays answered just two plays later on a 74-yard run from Clemson-commit Jaren Kanak. Less than three minutes later, Bailey hit Jeron Askren on a 13-yard strike to put Maize South back on top 36-32 with 7:43 to play.

The Indians used another short drive of just three plays before Malik Bah punched it in from eight yards out. Kanak’s 2-point try gave Hays a 40-36 edge with 7:22 remaining.

The scoring was far from finished. Maize South strung together a big drive, completing a fourth-down pass before Bailey found Askren again, this time from 7-yards out. The Mavs regained a 43-40 lead with 2:34 to play.

Hays scored one more time, capitalizing on a pass interference call and two penalties on the same play before Roy Moroni scored from 11 yards out with just 77 seconds to play. Senior Jake Fields struggled on point-after attempts in the game but nailed his final kick for an all-important 47-43 score.

“I think he was 24 for 24 to start the season,” Crough said. “The last couple of week’s he’s been struggling. We threw Teegan (Turnball) in there and he missed one, too. Teegan kicks it a little bit further than Jack so that’s why we put him in for the field goal. I got on Jack and asked him if he was with us or what’s going on. He said, ‘Coach, I’m ready.’ I told him to get over there and warm up and he made one, so that was pretty big.”

Maize South never quit, driving all the way to the 2-yard line and just missing a completion out of bounds with no time remaining.

Hays dominated the contest early on with three touchdowns in less than 10 minutes of action. Kanak capped a drive from six yards out to open the game, then his 39-yard completion to Kyreese Groen resulted in a quick 13-0 score. Bah busted a 55-yard run for the 20-0 lead.

The Mavs answered with a 6-yard touchdown from Evan Cantu. The senior entered the night averaging better than 230 yards a night on the ground to lead all 11-man teams in Kansas this fall. The Indians kept him in check with 35 carries for 144 yards on the night.

“Our goal was 100,” said Crough. “We thought if we could hold him to 100 yards we would win the game. He probably had 40 rushes, but when you’re getting hit by (Gavin) Meyers and those guys down there all night long, it’s going to wear on you a little bit. We said if we give it up in the passing game, at least we’re going to make them beat us like that. They dang near did.”

After a cool start, Bailey was huge for the Mavs with 370 yards on 27-of-39 passing with four touchdowns and an early interception. The sophomore Askren caught just two short passes in the first half but finished the night with 146 yards and two touchdowns on 13 receptions. Dresie, also a sophomore, caught three passes for 121 yards and a score.

Moroni strung together seven runs of at least 11 yards in the second half, including the winning touchdown, to end his Homecoming night with 202 yards and a score on 22 attempts. With his big run late, Kanak added 187 yards on 17 carries and also threw for 74 yards on 5-of-12 passing. Bah rushed for 72 yards and two scores on just five carries.

Maize South opened the season at 5-0 but now has back-to-back losses against powerhouse programs Maize and Hays. The Indians move to 6-1 overall heading into next Friday’s big game at Wichita Northwest.

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