Until 3:26 remaining in the first quarter against Kingman on Friday, Hesston hadn’t faced a deficit all season.
What started as only a two-point Kingman lead quickly escalated to a 15-point lead less than a minute into the second quarter. But Hesston adjusted, and started to go to senior running back Ryan Schadler. The result was a 41-27 win that improved the Swathers to 5-0.
“That was the first time we’d ever been trailing at any point this year. We wanted to know how we’d respond when that happened,” Hesston coach Clint Rider said. “Like I told them, ‘Our resolve is magnificent.’ We found that out tonight. I didn’t know that before tonight, but I do now.”
Schadler finished with 289 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
“(Hesston) has a really nice football team, and (Schadler) is a high-caliber kid,” Kingman coach Curtis Albin said. “He’s tough to handle, and I don't think we’re alone in that.”
Although Hesston jumped ahead with a touchdown on its first drive, Kingman scored three times in a row. Mitchell Packard ran nine yards for the first touchdown, and combined with Zach Andersen for the two-point conversion. Cody New added a 19-yard touchdown run 1:13 later, and Packard opened up the second quarter with a short touchdown after a 39-yard carry from Andersen to set up the score.
“They’re very physical, and I don't think we were ready for that type of speed to start the game,” Rider said. “We needed a quarter or two to adjust to how fast they are.”
Hesston answered back with three consecutive touchdowns — all from Schadler.
Schadler ran for a 65-yard touchdown on Hesston’s first play of the second quarter, and after stopping Kingman’s drive it took only two plays for Schadler to run 75 yards for another touchdown. Schadler finished the half with a five-yard touchdown run and a 25-21 lead.
Hesston found itself behind Kingman again in the third quarter, when the Eagles scored on an 8-yard run from Braxton Bangert for a 27-25 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“We’re pretty diverse,” Albin said. “We can attack from a lot of different areas, and I think that going forward that will be a strength for us.”
Hesston recovered a fumble early in the fourth quarter, and Schadler started the drive with a 34-yard touchdown run. On Kingman’s next drive, Collin Martin intercepted Packard’s pass, and four plays later Schadler ran 51 yards for the final touchdown.
“Kingman’s a great team and we knew that coming in, and we kind of got to cruise to this point in some instances, but right now I know that our team is not only talented, but mentally tough,” Rider said. “We’ve got to stay hungry. Tonight just makes me hungry for more, and I think our players feel the same way.”
H—Schadler 12 run (kick failed)
K—Packard 9 run (Andersen pass from Packard)
K—New 19 run (Knoblauch kick)
K—Packard 1 run (two-point conversion failed)
H—Schadler 65 run (Roth kick)
H—Schadler 75 run (two-point conversion failed)
H—Schadler 5 run (kick failed)
K—Bangert 8 run (two-point conversion failed)
H—Schadler 34 run (Simpson pass from McKinney)
H—Schadler 51 run (McKinney run)
Rushing—Kingman, Andersen 13-97, New 8-75, Keeny 7-31, Packard 10-27, Bangert 8-18. Hesston, Schadler 20-289, Barber 11-53, McKinney 9-44.
Passing—Kingman, Packard 4-10-38-2. Hesston, McKinney 1-6-10-0.
Receiving—Kingman, Bradshaw 1-23, Bangert 2-8, New 1-7. Hesston, Smith 1-10.