In the second quarter, Hesston had pulled to within a point of Chaparral, 14-13, on a 37-yard touchdown pass.
There was a bad snap on the point-after try, but holder Zach Vogt ran it in for two points.
The conversion put Hesston ahead, 15-14, and the Roadrunners never caught up in a 35-20 Swathers victory Saturday evening in a Class 3A second-round game.
Hesston (8-3) will travel for its quarterfinal game to Phillipsburg (11-0), which defeated Larned 14-7.
"It wasn’t a very good snap, and I didn’t think I had time to get the ball down, so I figured the best way was to get it outside the defense and to the pylon," Vogt said. "I had to dive to get there, but I got there."
The two-point conversion may well have swung the game in Hesston’s favor, but senior quarterback Zach Esau did the driving. Esau passed for 330 yards and two scores, and rushed for 142 more and three touchdowns, giving him a hand in all of the Swathers’ touchdowns.
Afterward, he downplayed the glossy numbers.
"We just stuck with our game plan," he said matter-of-factly. "We know that the only ones who can stop us are ourselves, so we just eliminate errors and we can be really good."
Vogt said a lot has to do with Esau’s determination.
"Esau’s one of the most competitive people I’ve met in my life, and he doesn’t like to get tackled," Vogt said. "His competitiveness, that’s what keeps him going."
It seemed that everything Hesston tried on offense was successful.
"Our line has improved a lot this year," Esau said.
Parker Patterson staked Chaparral (9-2) to an early 7-0 lead by returning the game-opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown.
That served as a wakeup call for Hesston, Vogt said.
"Once they had that (touchdown) on the opening kickoff of the game," he said, "we just had to rebound from it. Our defense played amazing. After the first quarter, the defense just stood up and played really good (Saturday night).
"Once our offense got rolling, they couldn’t stop us all night. The only time they stopped us was when we fumbled or had bad play. When our offense was clicking, they couldn’t stop us."
Chaparral’s offense, dominant against Conway Springs in the district final, was shut down in the second half by a swarming Hesston defense.
Frequently, the Swathers were able to break a lot of tackles on offense, seemingly squirting away from would-be tacklers.
"Our coaches always tell us, ‘Don’t get tackled; run as hard as you can,’" Esau said. "So I just try to do that to the best of my ability and it works out for me sometimes."
His ability was on display, be it running or passing. In the third quarter, he managed to give the Swathers some breathing room on the first series of the third quarter. He took the snap at his 47, ran past the first wave, then found some open field for a 53-yard score that pushed a 22-20 lead to 29-20 before many of the fans had returned to their seats.
Esau said the success could be attributed to the team staying focused.
"(It’s) our biggest challenge," he said. "If we can stay focused and locked in, good things happen for us."
As a senior, Esau said he’s looking forward to prolonging his football career as much as he can.
"It’s special," he said. "It’s really special. We’ve all been playing club football since third grade, just through the ups and downs, it’s good to see the success coming out."
They’ll be facing an undefeated Phillipsburg team next on the road, and Esau said he’s ready.
"We don’t want the drive, but we want to play them," he said.
Chaparral 14 6 0 0 – 20
Hesston 7 15 7 6 – 35
C – Patterson 93 kickoff return (Escobar kick)
H – Esau 10 run (Whitsitt kick)
C – Patterson 85 pass from Clark (Escobar kick)
H – Bachman 37 pass from Esau (Vogt run)
H – Esau 3 run (Whitsitt kick)
C – Patterson 18 pass from Clark (run failed)
H – Esau 53 run (Whitsitt kick)
H – Vogt 15 pass from Esau (kick failed)
RUSHING – Chaparral: Jenkins 21-73, Overton 9-44, Clark 15-17, Patterson 1-3, Shelton 1-(-1). Hesston: Esau 22-89, Roth 8-17, Cox 1-(-1).
PASSING – Chaparral: Clark 20-33-1-234. Hesston: Esau 21-34-1-330.
RECEIVING – Chaparral: Patterson 10-143, Pfaff 5-61, Cormack 2-14, Overton 2-6, Jenkins 1-14. Hesston: Cox 8-117, Vogt 8-96, Bachman 3-64, Nebel 2-53.