While the Maize South offense created opportunities for itself Friday night by moving within the Hesston 20-yard-line seven times, the Mavericks failed to score on their first six trips into the red zone.
The Mavericks had a first down at the Hesston 2 on their first drive, turned it over on downs. They got to the Hesston 11 twice and the 8 twice, and turned it over on downs each time. They also moved to the Hesston 15 and fumbled.
“We made a lot of runs, we put yards up, saw that red zone and they find a way to just make us miss,” Maize South coach Brent Pfeifer said.
Yet Maize South beat Hesston 14-6 to improve to 7-1 overall and 2-0 in Class 4A-District 10. Hesston is 7-1, 1-1.
“Obviously, Hesston’s a great team, but we definitely beat ourselves up a bit,” said Maize South senior Chase Bell, who scored the game’s first touchdown on a 33-yard run with 1:47 to go in the third quarter. “I think we could have punched it in a few times.”
Bell, who finished with 160 rushing yards on 16 carries, also had a seven-yard touchdown run with 3:10 to go, which was the Mavericks’ only successful trip inside the red zone.
Maize South had driven to the Hesston 2 on its first series following Bell’s 54-yard run, but on first down, the Mavericks had a false start. Then, on fourth-and-goal from the five, Hesston senior Ryan Schadler batted down a pass at the goal line to force the turnover on downs.
Schadler, who entered the game with 1,704 rushing yards, forced a fumble on Maize South’s next possession.
“Defensively we showed that we can stop them,” Schadler said. “We made some pretty awesome stands. It hurts, but we’ll come back. We’re not done.”
On Maize South’s fifth possession inside the Hesston 20, Schadler forced a fumble at the 15. The Mavericks drove to the Hesston 11 on the next series, and facing fourth and goal, sophomore quarterback Korie Frausto fumbled the snap and was sacked.
A harsh critique could have come at halftime for Maize South as the score sat at 0-0 and the missed opportunities could prove costly. But Pfeifer chose a different tack.
“Frustration, we didn’t want to show that to them,” Pfeifer said. “They were already beating themselves down. We had 212 yards of offense in the first half to their 31, that’s what we focused on at halftime. What we’re doing is working, we have to keep working it. We just can’t make mistakes.”
Pfeifer’s focus on Maize South’s defense was understandable. The Mavericks stifled Hesston. While Schadler finished with 103 rushing yards on 17 carries, he only had one run over nine yards, a 69-yard scoring run with 19.5 seconds remaining in the third quarter to cut the Maize South lead to 7-6.
In the first half, Hesston had one first down, and four of its five possessions were three and outs. The fifth series was only five plays. In the second half, Hesston punted on three of five possessions, turning it over on downs on its final series.
“Our coaches were hounding us, hounding us, to stay fundamental this week, don’t try to be the hero, play as a team like we have been all year,” Maize South senior Josh Lewis said. “ We were afraid of (Schadler). He does a little zone cutback play, and he’ll bounce out. He busted it up and he was gone. Bounced off tackles.”
Schadler’s scoring run showcased his ability to cut, as well as his speed — even though he cramped up as he was racing up the left sideline, he still scored.
Maize South did make a change at quarterback. Pfeifer switched from Bell to Frausto on its third series, but went back to Bell with 3:06 to go in the third quarter.
“We like what both give us. They both give us a different dynamic,” Pfeifer said. “We like to move them around a little bit. The defense had to play a little different. When Korie’s in there, they have to be really good on the outside. When Chase is in there, you have to tackle well because he’ll run you over.”
Bell, who is 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, scored on his 33-yard run on the third play after returning at quarterback.
“We kind of felt like (Hesston was) starting to really get tired at the end of the third quarter,” Pfeifer said. “We saw a lot of their guys in the middle, hands on their knees, kind of get down a little bit. That’s when we knew we wanted to hit the middle of the field a little more,a nd Chase was our best bet to do that.”
MS — Bell 33 run (Galliher kick)
H — Schadler 69 run (missed kick)
MS — Bell 7 run (Galliher kick)