Tanner Wintz was so willing to give away the spotlight on Friday night that even his winning touchdown run started as a fake to someone else.
The Hutchinson quarterback guided a Salthawks rally against Maize, tallying 20 yards on seven second-half carries as a facilitator and sporadic participant in a running attack more heavily reliant upon tailback Blaik Middleton.
Maize’s defense believed the fake, too, turning its attention toward the middle of the field just long enough for Wintz to break outside and sneak into the corner of the end zone for a touchdown that gave Hutchinson a 40-37 overtime win.
Wintz rushed for 144 yards, though 66 came on one first-half scamper, and helped the Salthawks hold off Maize and Connor Lungwitz’s 343 passing yards on 51 attempts. The game turned into a shootout that highlighted the teams’ contrasting styles.
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Middleton finished with 282 yards and five touchdowns.
“Blaik did a good job on selling the fake,” Wintz said. “The (offensive) line and my slot (receiver) and everybody, they blocked great – the fullback. At first I looked and I thought I could see a cutup way. Then I saw a (defender) and I had to cut it back in and it just opened up a little bit.”
Hutchinson, which turned apparent blowouts into close losses with strong second halves the previous two weeks against Derby and Salina South, again ignited after halftime, scoring 20 straight points to take a 34-20 lead early in the fourth quarter.
A fumble and an eight-play drive that ended on downs created enough space for Lungwitz to rally the Eagles. While watching Hutchinson total 385 rushing yards, Maize never abandoned its strength, and it needed Lungwitz to quickly make up the deficit.
Lungwitz was never short on quality receivers, making the 74 yards Maize needed to cover over the final 3:44 plenty workable. There was one play longer than 15 yards during the 15-play drive that included two fourth-quarter conversions before Kendall Stewart caught a four-yard touchdown with 15 seconds to go.
Maize lost a game to Salina Central last month after failing on a two-point conversion that could have won the game. The Eagles opted to play for the tie this time, which they converted, and played the percentages while going for a field goal on the first possession of overtime.
“You think about everything, all those things cross your mind,” Maize coach Gary Guzman said. “In regulation, you can go for the tie or you can go for the win. We went for the win against Salina Central and it didn’t work for us, so we decided to send it to overtime today and take our chances in overtime.
“On fourth down (in overtime), you can go for the touchdown or you can go for the field goal and hope the defense can get the stops that they need to get. Sometimes it works for you, sometimes it doesn’t. It doesn’t make any difference.”
Maize has surrendered 135 points over its last four games, forcing Lungwitz and company to orchestrate more high-leverage drives than most offenses of their ability usually need.
Friday, the Eagles never slowed Hutchinson’s running game as Middleton’s second-half surge seemed to coincide with Maize’s fatigue. Middleton had three touchdowns in a five-carry span and Maize’s defense was on the field for 36 of 45 plays during one second-half stretch.
“I’m not going to put any fault on the defense,” Guzman said. “They’ve got a good offensive group, and they can score some points. They challenged Derby, they challenged Salina South. I knew they were a good ballclub. They’re capable of putting up points just like we are. It’s tough on defenses all over the place.”
M—Lee 6 pass from Lungwitz (pass failed)
H—Middleton 6 run (Luce kick)
M—Stewart 69 pass from Lungwitz (Sanchez kick)
H—Middleton 4 run (Luce kick)
M—Chavez 4 pass from Lungwitz (Sanchez kick)
H—Middleton 28 run (Luce kick)
H—Middleton 40 run (run failed)
H—Middleton 2 run (Luce kick)
M—Lungwitz 1 run (Sanchez kick)
M—Stewart 4 pass from Lungwitz (Sanchez kick)
M—Sanchez 24 FG
H—Wintz 10 run (no PAT)
Rushing—Hutchinson, Middleton 38-282, Wintz 16-144, Hardenberger 13-59; Maize, Johnson 10-41, Stewart 1-10, Lungwitz 3-(-2), Chavez 2-(-3).
Passing—Hutchinson, Wintz 3-6-42-1 INT; Maize, Lungwitz 28-51-343-0.
Receiving—Hutchinson, Stoecklein 3-42; Maize, Stewart 9-152, Chavez 8-74, Lee 6-45, Johnson 3-32, Jones 2-40.