Kapaun Mount Carmel quarterback Brock Monty admits he likes a good offensive shootout.
Monty has been getting his wish lately. And the Crusaders keep carving their way through the Class 5A playoffs.
Monty directed several long scoring drives, and running back Ethan Harp ran for 141 yards and four touchdowns as Kapaun outlasted Salina Central 44-42 on Friday in the 5A quarterfinals at Salina Stadium.
Kapaun (10-1) advanced to the state semifinals for the first time since 1990 and will host Salina South, a 21-19 winner over Bishop Carroll, next Friday for a berth in the Nov. 30 championship game.
The Crusaders, who allowed just 37 points while winning their first five games, gave up 40 or more for the second time in the playoffs. But with Harp churning out 105 yards and three touchdowns in the second half, Kapaun rallied from a 14-point deficit.
“I don’t feel like we’re carrying the load at all,” said Monty, who ran for 98 yards and a touchdown and passed for 78 yards and another score. “We’re going to feed off each other. If our defense is struggling, we’re going to help them. If we’re struggling, they’re going to help us.”
Salina Central (5-6) had won three consecutive games with a high-powered rushing attack and averaged almost 44 points during their streak. The Mustangs continued the assault against Kapaun, as quarterback J.W. Maldaner and running back Malik Veal combined for 379 yards and five touchdowns.
It appeared early that Kapaun might fall prey to the Mustangs’ new-found confidence. Salina Central scored on its first three possessions, driving 88, 80 and 70 yards to build a 21-7 lead.
“Every team has been getting better and better as the season has gone on,” said Harp, a 205-pound senior. “Our offense has done a great job stepping up.”
Harp provided a spark midway through the second quarter, running for seven yards on a fourth-and-2 play from Kapaun’s 28. Monty added a 20-yard scramble and the Crusaders cut their deficit to 21-14 late in the half on Monty’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Devin Dempsey.
Kapaun’s defense finally stopped Salina Central on its final possession of the first half and opening possession of the third quarter. Kapaun cut the Mustangs’ lead to 21-20 on Monty’s quarterback sneak, but a two-point conversion failed.
Salina Central answered quickly, as Veal, who ran for 167 yards on 23 carries, broke free for a 79-yard run to Kapaun’s 1. Maldaner scored two plays later to extend the Mustangs’ lead to 28-20 with 6:48 to play in the third.
“I felt we were going to win the game right up to the very end,” Salina Central coach Mike Hall said. “These kids have never quit and weren’t going to quit.”
A 46-yard pass from Monty to Puritty on Kapaun’s next drive led to Harp’s 5-yard touchdown run. Monty added a two-point conversion to tie the score at 28, where it stood into the fourth quarter.
But Salina Central countered again. Maldaner’s 46-yard scramble on a third-and-8 play set up Veal’s 13-yard touchdown run with 9:42 to play.
Kapaun’s offense faced a steady south breeze in the final quarter, but it didn’t matter. Monty engineered a 14-play, 80-yard drive that included three third-down conversions. Harp capped it with a 1-yard plunge, and Monty’s two-point conversion pass to Purrity gave Kapaun its first lead at 36-35 with 3:17 remaining.
The Crusaders’ defense followed with their biggest stop of the night. Maldaner’s 9-yard completion to Casey Rayas on fourth-and-10 turned the ball over on downs at the Mustangs’ 43. Harp took it from there, running for 24 yards on the first play and 19 on the second for his final touchdown. Sam LaFleur added a two-point conversion run with 1:28 to play.
Maldaner guided the Mustangs down the field for their final touchdown with six seconds remaining. But Kapaun’s Nathan Ralston recovered an onside kick, and the Crusaders secured the victory.
“I had trust in our defense,” Monty said. “I trusted our offensive line was going to move people off the ball. I never doubted when we were down. I knew we could do it.”
SC—Veal 4 run (Robl kick)
K—Harp 1 run (Wells kick)
SC—Kossow 24 pass from Maldaner (Robl kick)
SC—Veal 3 run (Robl kick)
K—Dempsey 10 pass from Monty (Wells kick)
K—Monty 1 run (pass failed)
SC—Maldaner 1 run (Robl kick)
K—Harp 5 run (Monty run)
SC—Veal 13 run (Robl kick)
K—Harp 1 run (Puritty pass from Monty)
K—Harp 19 run (LaFleur run)
SC—Maldaner 3 run (Robl kick)
Rushing—Kapaun, Harp 23-141, Monty 22-98, Norris 12-76, Dempsey 8-40. Salina Central, Maldaner 20-212, Veal 23-167, Peters 3-11, Rodriguez 1-2.
Passing—Kapaun, Monty 4-12-78-0, McGrath 1-1-21-0. Salina Central, Maldaner 7-21-118-0.
Receiving—Kapaun, Puritty 2-60, Dempsey 1-10, McGrath 1-8. Salina Central, Rayas 3-60, Veal 3-34, Kossow 1-24.