Maize South turns back Topeka Hayden
Maize South football coach Brent Pfeifer smiled and shook his head when asked to dissect his emotions during the Mavericks’ thrilling 14-7 victory over visiting Topeka Hayden in Tuesday’s first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
“A rollercoaster,” he said. “Up and down and sideways and twists and turns and circles. Both sides. We’d get momentum and then lose it. Momentum and then lose it. Turnover, turnover, a lot of smash-mouth football, a lot of running down the middle and seeing what happens. Our defense really held tight tonight.”
Maize South’s first playoff victory – the Mavericks (9-1) have been playoff eligible for three of the school’s four years – was no easy feat.
It took defensive stands and turnovers. It took overcoming mistakes, including turnovers.
The game’s final play was a pass by Hayden quarterback Jacob Tetuan to the goal line that Maize South’s Wes Phillips and Desean Washington helped break up as time expired.
“When we see a long ball go up,” Washington said, “we swarm to the ball. Whenever that pass went up, me and Wes looked at the ball, saw the man and tried to knock it out, do whatever we can.”
Four minutes earlier, Hayden had a first down at the Maize South 6, trailing by a touchdown. The Mavericks’ defense, the team’s jewel all season, held firm. Junior Mac Evans tackled Hayden receiver Skylar Smith at the 1 on fourth down.
“Our defense stuck with it really well, never got down,” said Phillips, who scored the game’s first touchdown on a 21-yard reception from Chase Bell in the second quarter. “They’re inside the 5 and we stuck with it. I think we’re known for that.”
Pfeifer pressed his defense all season on goal-line situations, pounding the offense at them near the goal line.
“We work that constantly on our offense,” he said. “Just stopping us and stopping us and stopping us.”
Hayden’s possession started four minutes earlier after the Mavericks committed one of their three turnovers at the Hayden 36.
It was one of many times Maize South had to adjust on the fly after big plays, including Tetuan’s 43-yard touchdown pass to Brogan Barry with 45 seconds remaining in the first half to tie the score at 7-all.
Maize South fumbled the second half’s opening kickoff – and then recovered Hayden’s fumble on its first play. Maize South scored six plays later on Alex Orth’s 50-yard touchdown reception off Phillips’ pass.
There were more momentum changes, including when Phillips was intercepted at the Mavericks’ 40 by Barry at the 2:13 mark of the third quarter. Barry returned it to the Maize South 25.
“I told my team, ‘I’m getting the ball back. There’s no way they’re scoring,’ ” Phillips recalled. “I’m not going down without a fight if they get my ball.”
On Hayden’s first play of the possession, Barry carried the ball and was hit by Phillips for a two-yard loss. It was a crushing tackle and the resulting celebration earned Maize South a penalty. But three plays later, Phillips made good on his promise and intercepted Tetuan’s pass at the 3.
“That’s just Wes,” Pfeifer said. “He’s been doing that for four years. He’s one of those kids when he makes a mistake, you just know that if you put him on the other side of the ball, he’ll make up for it. He does not allow failure. When something bad happens, he makes up for it in a hurry.”
MS – Phillips 21 pass from Bell (Galliher kick)
TH – Barry 43 pass from Tetuan (Watkins kick)
MS – Orth 50 pass from Phillips (Galliher kick)
Rushing – Hayden, Z. Smith 9-69, Rineberg 9-33, Barry 7-17, Tetuan 7-14, Menke 3-13, Dodd 3-3. Maize South, Rogers 17-53, Bell 7-33, Phillips 4-17, Orth 2-8.
Passing – Hayden, Tetuan 16-27-156-1. Maize South, Bell 3-7-61-0, Phillips 2-3-55-1.
Receiving – Hayden, Barry 5-69, S. Smith 5-35, Head 3-28, Z. Smith 2-13, Kresin 1-11. Maize South, Orth 2-74, Phillips 1-21, McDonald 1-16, Koehn 1-5.