Andover Central did just what it needed to on Thursday night to advance to the Class 4A playoffs, beating Wichita Trinity 36-14 at Cessna Stadium.
It was a big victory for the Jaguars, who improved to 4-5 after starting the season 1-4. They will play Andover (8-1), the District 11 winner, on Tuesday.
But if the muted cheers in the locker room hadn't been overheard following the win, one might have thought this was just another game for Andover Central.
For the Jaguars, who advanced to the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season, it was business as usual.
"We knew we were going to win this game," Andover Central lineman Boston Stiverson said as he shrugged his shoulders.
"It's good," Andover Central coach Tom Audley said. "We keep our run going and now we have to do something when we get there."
Andover Central quickly took a 16-0 lead. The Jaguars got a safety after Matt Clements blocked a Trinity punt and the ball rolled out of the back of the end zone.
On the ensuing possession, the Jaguars capped a six-play, 44-yard drive with a 1-yard run by Tim Rockett. Less than three minutes later, Rockett scored again on a 7-yard run for the 16-0 lead with 6:20 to go in the first quarter.
Rockett finished with 167 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
But after an Andover Central fumble, recovered by Trinity's Adam Kriwiel midway through the second period, running back Morgan Burns made the first of two spectacular plays.
On second and goal from the 3, Burns ran to the right side and was swarmed, so he headed back left, got a block and scored.
Then, with 22 seconds remaining in the first half, Trinity quarterback Toby Kriwiel found Burns over the middle for a reception. Burns stutter-stepped at the line, then ran left and out-raced the defenders up the sideline for the 60-yard score to get within 16-14.
Burns finished with 95 rushing yards on 22 carries.
"The Burns kid can go yard at any time, and he did, twice," Audley said. "He made two great plays. He's good. He's a very scary guy."
In the second half, though, Andover Central's offensive line dominated.
"We have 10 guys that were going both ways," Trinity coach Mike Kriwiel said. "The second half has always been hard for us against bigger teams. They jumped on us in the third quarter, but we still felt like we could fight back. We couldn't stop their run."
The Jaguars opened gaping holes for Rockett, who sped through for gains of 47, 17 and 10 yards.
"The offensive line opened huge holes for me," Rockett said."... Just daylight, big holes. Anytime the line blocks like that, you're going to get big yardage and big plays."
Down 23-14 after a Landon Huslig touchdown, Trinity tried a fake punt, but the pass fell short. With a short field, Andover Central scored after three plays.
Then Trinity fumbled after one play on its next possession, and the Jaguars answered again with its third touchdown of the third quarter.
"We had them out-manned (on the offensive line), as far as more beef than them," Audley said. "And our kids got off the ball and locked on people. I think we played well up front."
Andover Central (4-5, 2-1) 9 7 20 0 — 36 Wichita Trinity (5-4, 1-2) 0 14 0 0 — 14
AC—Safety, blocked punt out of end zone
AC—Rockett 1 run (Warchuck kick)
AC—Rockett 7 run (Warchuck kick)
WT—Burns 3 run (Brewster kick)
WT—Burns 60 pass from Kriwiel (Brewer kick)
AC—Huslig 1 run (Warchuck kick)
AC—Rockett 22 run (Warchuck kick)
AC—Phillippi 3 run (missed kick)
Rushing—Andover Central, Rockett 21-167, Bontz 5-100, Phillippi 7-42, Hoy 3-12, Miller 2-10, Huslig 4-9, Broadhead 2-6, Lock 1-3. Wichita Trinity, Burns 22-95, Kessinger 6-26, Kriwiel 2-(-5), Werhan 1-4.
Passing—Andover Central, Huslig 4-11-82-1. Wichita Trinity, Kriwiel 8-18-124-1, Burns 0-1-0-0, Alexander 0-1-0-1, Brewer 0-1-0-0.
Receiving—Andover Central, Lock 1-34, Trembly 1-26, Warchuck 1-13, Clements 1-9. Wichita Trinity, Burns 3-67, Kennedy 3-27, Kempin 1-19, Kessinger 1-12.