ANDOVER — Rose Hill quarterback Tyler Shirley returned to the Rockets lineup after missing two weeks due to injury.
With the way his new backfield mates played, he could have taken another week off.
Junior Laque Mayes ran for 199 yards and three scores on 23 carries, and sophomore Derrick Decker ran for a score and 142 yards on 18 carries as the Rockets clinched a spot in the Class 4A playoffs with a resounding 45-13 win against Andover Central.
"With Tyler coming off the injury, we didn't want to ask him to do a lot of the running part of our offense, to use Derrick and Laque in the offense at the same time," Rose Hill coach Greg Slade said.
Mayes had the bigger numbers but Decker, who lined up at quarterback in Shirley's absence, had the bigger impact against the Jaguars.
The Rockets presented a Wildcat look, shifting Shirley out to wide receiver while Decker lined up at quarterback. Decker also spent time lined up next to Shirley as a tailback.
"They were keying on Shirley, but he would go out to wide receiver and you could see (Jaguar defenders) looking at each other and stumbling around," Decker said.
"They did a good job mixing those guys up," Central coach Tom Audley said. "We knew Decker was a pretty good runner... and having both in the huddle at the same time, not knowing how they were going to come out. But I thought their offensive line played pretty dang well."
Shirley's statistics were modest, but he dazzled on Rose Hill's third scoring drive as he rolled to the right, spun away from one Andover defender before firing a strike in the back of the end zone to Dillon Rapp for a 17-0 lead. That was sandwiched by Mayes touchdown runs of 70 and 13 yards, the latter giving Rose Hill a 24-0 halftime lead.
Central took advantage of its best field position of the game on its opening drive of the second half and went 50 yards in three plays, with Taylor Phillippi covering the last 24. And the Jaguars would get the ball back after another defensive stand, but Rose Hill recovered a fumbled pitch at the Central 32.
Decker then carried five consecutive times, capping the drive with a 4-yard run and a 31-7 lead with 4 minutes, 12 seconds left in the game.
Rose Hill's defense was also stout, forcing four turnovers and holding Central to just 69 yards total offense in the first half.
"It was frustrating," Audley said. "Hats off to them. They controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage. But we can still get in (the playoffs). It's going to come down to which one of us can get to 2-1."
Rose Hill finishes Thursday against arch-rival Mulvane, which was eliminated after losing to Trinity. Trinity finishes against Central, with the winner of that game clinching a playoff berth.
Rose Hill (7-1, 2-0) 10 14 14 7 -- 45 Andover Central (3-5, 1-1) 0 0 7 6 -- 13
RH-FG Knight 20
RH-Mayes 70 run (Knight kick)
RH-Rapp 19 pass from Shirley (Knight kick)
RH-Mayes 13 run (Knight kick)
AC-Phillippi 24 run (Warchuck kick)
RH-Decker 4 run (Knight kick)
RH-Mayes 47 run (Knight kick)
AC-Rockett 1 run (pass failed)
RH-Lewis 1 run (Knight kick)
Rushing — Rose Hill, Mayes 23-199, Decker 18-142, Lewis 6-21, Leabo 1-19, Shirley 1-(-4). Central, Phillippi 10-27, Rockett 9-41, Huslig 8-12, Hoy 2-0, Bontz 1-0, Lock 2-(-3).
Passing — Rose Hill, Shirley 5-12-50-0. Central, Huslig 5-14-93-2.
Receiving — Rose Hill, Train 3-23, Rap 1-19, Leabo 1-8. Central, Trembly 2-57, Clements 1-22, Phillippi 1-7, Warchuck 1-7.