It was a night of football to remember for Mulvane on Friday night, with junior quarterback Jayden Price masterfully guiding a very efficient offense.
It was a night to forget for Augusta, which found itself in a 28-0 hole at the half and committing an uncharacteristic seven turnovers.
In the end, the Wildcats remained in control, taking a 42-7 victory in a Class 4A-Division I first-round game.
The victory propels Mulvane into a quarterfinal next week at Buhler. The 42 points came on 55 plays, yielding 319 yards.
Mulvane coach Dave Fennewald said being able to jump to the early lead was a bonus for his club.
“They’re a very good offensive team, but not the type of offensive team that’s going to strike in a hurry, play after play after play like we were able to do,” he said. “So it was really important getting the 28-point lead.”
Price, a 6-1, 178-pounder, used pinpoint accuracy in completing 14 of 18, including four touchdown passes, for 180 yards. He also contributed a team-leading 83 rushing yards on 13 carries, including a 5-yard bolt up the middle for Mulvane’s first touchdown.
“(He’s a) very, very gifted athlete,” Fennewald said. “He’s more concerned about wins than about any stats that he has. (He’s) kind of the catalyst that makes this offense go.”
He said Price has a very good offensive line in front of him.
“We have five seniors (on the line) who are all back from last year,” he said. “The wide receivers are also blocking well.”
Even seniors Dalton Blaine and Chase Myears, who each pulled in two touchdown passes against Augusta, are always willing to take on blocking chores as well as receiving ones, Fennewald said.
Blaine’s first scoring pass came on a beautifully threaded 28-yard pass from Price that led him right into the end zone.
“He’s been putting it there all week, so I knew that it would be there,” Blaine said.
Fennewald said next week’s quarterfinal will be another chapter in a recurring story of Mulvane vs. Buhler.
“Buhler, the team we play next, has kind of knocked them out a few times,” he said. “They’re hungry; they’re excited; they want to keep this going as long as they can, just one week at a time.”
Blaine and Evans have another strength, Fennewald said.
“They are able to catch the ball,” he said. “Augusta had a lot of drops (Friday night). You don’t see our kids drop the ball. But the thing I like most about our receivers is their unselfishness to block for the offense.”
The Mulvane defense came within 2:36 of shutting out the Orioles.
“Lights-out defense (Friday night),” Fennewald said. “I cannot be more proud of the way this defense played (Friday night). I think they had a little chip on their shoulder, and we really challenged them during the week. Forcing the turnovers like they did was just a blessing. And I’m so proud of those kids and the way they played.”
The defensive philosophy is: Get the ball for the Wildcats’ offense.
“I think we did that (Friday night),” Fennewald said.
Of course, not everyone follows the plan. Senior defensive back Zach Helbing recovered two of Augusta’s fumbles. On the first one, he tried to return it, but it was blown dead, and the Orioles runner was declared down by contact.
No matter. Helbing picked up a fumble with about six minutes remaining, and outran everyone – including his teammates – to the end zone for Mulvane’s final points.
“He did it on his own,” Fennewald said. “He does a great job of stripping the ball, and he forced a couple of turnovers (Friday night). He’s a very elusive kid, and seeing him there in the end zone was a very nice thing for a senior.”
Almost lost in the shuffle was diminutive running back Keaton Shoemaker. He started unimpressively, with little gains on his first few carries. But then suddenly he started to build up yardage and finished with 62 yards in 19 carries.
Shoemaker, who stands just 5-4, manages to get hidden behind his much larger linemen.
“Sometimes you can’t see him,” Fennewald said, “but he’s a tough package at 130 pounds.”
Shoemaker said the line and the Wildcats’ defense deserve a lot of credit.
“They were fantastic,” he said. “They work very hard, and they deserve all the attention, that’s for sure,” he said.
As for the defense, Augusta’s explosive offense provided a challenge, he said.
“Our defense came into the game knowing it was going to be a big deal to stop them,” Shoemaker said. “And they came in, and they got it done.”
M – Price 5 run (Coon kick)
M – Blaine 28 pass from Price (Coon kick)
M – Myears 5 pass from Price (Coon kick)
M – Myears 18 pass from Price (Coon kick)
M – Helbing 21 fumble return (Coon kick)
A – Hilt 8 run (Shupe kick)
RUSHING – Augusta: Whitehead 14-52, Dockers 10-33, Hilt 6-25, Jackson 5-11, Rocheford 3-3. Mulvane: Price 13-83, Shoemaker 19-62, Dunlap 1-0, Blaine 1-(-2), team 3-(-5).
PASSING – Augusta: Whitehead 6-26-1-128, Wesbrooks 0-1-0-0. Mulvane: Price 14-18-1-180.
RECEIVING – Augusta: Rocheford 4-93, Jackson 1-27, Reynolds 1-8. Mulvane: Blaine 6-95, Myears 4-37, Ellis 2-25, Callaway 1-13, Dunlap 1-10.