MULVANE – There was already a Cinderella quality to the Mulvane Wildcats after they opened the Class 4A-Division I playoffs last week with a victory over McPherson in the final minute.
And the glass slipper was definitely out again Friday when Kyle Dillon scooped up a Topeka Hayden fumble on the second play and ran it 18 yards for a touchdown.
But Hayden is no stranger to this postseason thing. Once it got settled, Hayden overpowered Mulvane with stingy defense and some big plays of its own for a 34-12 quarterfinal victory.
Hayden (10-1) will host Buhler, a 38-14 winner over Andover Central, in next Friday’s semifinals. It will be the sixth meeting in seven years for the perennial powers.
Mulvane finished at 4-7.
“It was off to a crazy start,” said Mulvane quarterback RJ Regier, who ran for 63 yards and passed for 104. “We got that turnover and the big touchdown. I felt like we could do it.”
Mulvane also forced Hayden to turn the ball over on downs on its ensuing possession. But Hayden, which also ended Mulvane’s season in the 4A playoffs in 2010 and ’11, eventually stemmed the tide.
“I think our defense really turned it for us,” said Hayden senior Derrick McGreevy, who ran for one touchdown and caught one of Jacob Head’s two touchdown passes. “They ran a lot of formations, and our coaches really had us prepared for them.”
Hayden led 14-6 at halftime after shutting down a Mulvane drive just before the break. After a partially blocked punt, Mulvane marched from midfield to the Hayden 15. But McGreevy stopped Rieger for eight yards on a fourth-and-10 play, and Hayden ran off the closing seconds of the half.
“It was a very crucial drive,” Rieger said. “Not converting that really changed the momentum of the game.”
If it didn’t, a 57-yard punt return by Hayden’s Noah Huston certainly did. After Huston’s return, Hayden started at Mulvane’s 22 and scored three plays later on a 1-yard plunge by McGreevy.
Hayden added another rushing touchdown early in the fourth quarter, then got its own defensive score when lineman Jake Heit intercepted a Rieger pass and returned it 20 yards for Hayden’s final points.
Mulvane’s lone offensive touchdown came with 4:13 remaining on a 38-yard pass from Rieger to Ike Harvey.
“It’s all about getting a W and getting to the next week,” said Hayden coach Bill Arnold, whose team will look to avenge a 27-18 playoff loss to Buhler from last November. “I’m very proud of the kids.
“A lot of teams get on the road and make a mistake early, and you may end up saying, ‘What are we going to do?’”
M—Dillon 18 fumble return (pass failed)
TH—M. Meier 8 pass from Head (Heinen kick)
TH—McGreevy 17 pass from Head (Heinen kick)
TH—McGreevy 1 run (Heinen kick)
TH—Bluml 5 run (Heinen kick)
TH—Heit 20 interception return (kick blocked)
M—Harvey 38 pass from Rieger (pass failed)
Rushing—Hayden, Schumacher 13-69, McGreevy 7-27, Thompson 6-19, Bluml 6-12, Gaito 4-8, Campion 1-1, Diaz 1-(-1), Crittenden 1-(-2), Hobart 1-(-3), Head 7-(-13). Mulvane, Rieger 19-63, Price 11-59, Shoemaker 4-11, Dulaney 1-(-5).
Passing—Hayden, Head 7-9-79-0. Mulvane, Rieger 8-16-104-1.
Receiving—Hayden, Schumacher 5-54, McGreevy 1-17, M. Meier 1-8. Mulvane, Harvey 1-38, Dulaney 2-29, Evans 2-18, Johnston 1-10, Price 2-9.
RJ Rieger, Mulvane8-16-104