Maize survives and advances, outlasts Hutch 21-14
MAIZE, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - After Hutchinson fell to Maize by four touchdowns nearly a month ago, the Salthawks showed up Friday night and held the Eagles to their fewest points of the season and tightest game since Derby. And while it may not have been Maize’s prettiest win, in the playoffs pretty doesn’t matter. The Eagles survive and advance one step closer to the 5A title, 21-14.
“I think we’re a lot better team than we showed. Offensively we just couldn’t get anything clicking. I don’t know what it was but we’re just going to get back after it at practice,” said Maize quarterback Avery Johnson. “But I mean we can’t complain, we came out with a win. Our defense stepped up tremendously on multiple occasions and ultimately that’s why we’re still competing. That’s why we’ll still be playing next week.”
Hutch came with a game plan and executed in the first half. After forcing a Maize turnover on downs, the Salthawks made it a point to run the ball through the Eagles. Multiple fourth down conversions helped a drive last over ten minutes of game time -- and helped keep Avery Johnson and that Maize offense on the sideline -- before a QB sneak from Nic Lange to finish it off and give the Salthawks the first lead of the game.
But in typical Maize fashion, they kept themselves alive in the first half by scoring in chunks. A Bryce Cohoon touchdown pass from 34 yards out tied it up. Hutch’s offense had answer by doing what they did well in the first drive: running the football. With 5 minutes remaining in the half the Salthhawks had yet to have a pass attempt and had two rushing touchdowns as Devon Spiller punched another in.
But five minutes proved to be too much time to hold Maize scoreless as Johnson found Bryson Hayes for a deep pass to set up Maize in the red zone. Coach Gary Guzman went into his playbook a bit on the final play of the half calling a fake QB draw for Johnson, to which he dumped off a TD pass over the top to RB Daeshaun Carter.
The final points that we would see in the game would come on a two play, 99 yard drive from Maize as Johnson rushed for 18 yards before going 81 yards in the air to Justin Stephens.
“The route he ran wasn’t even the route that was called. He just ran it and I was kind of hoping he ran it and everything just kind of worked out,” Johnson said. “We were both thinking the same thing. I just put it in the air and let him do the rest.”
The Salthawks made a run at the end of the game to give the Eagles a scare, but the Maize defense stood strong on the final set of downs to walk away with a win.
“The first half we were all doing our own things. At halftime we all went in there and we decided we need to start [playing] together because when we play together we can stop anything,” DL Caden Miranda said. “We finally clicked together and it showed. The second half we came out way stronger.”
Maize will get to host one more game at home next week against the red hot Hays Indians. That one will decide who will get a shot at the 5A State Championship in Pittsburg at Carnie Smith Stadium.
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