From the beginning of the season, Kearney has had its eyes on a league title.
By KATHLEEN GIER
The Kansas City Star
On Friday night they had their chance to win it with fellow league leader Winnetonka at home, and they did just that.
Senior running back Brock Broughton led the Bulldogs with 173 rushing yards and three touchdowns as they defeated the Griffins, 27-6, capturing the elusive Suburban Blue Conferencetitle.
“It’s a great feeling for our kids to keep the momentum rolling and to go in there and win conference,” Kearney coach Greg Jones said. “Even when we won state, we didn’t win conference.”
With the victory, Kearney improved to 8-1 on the season and a perfect 5-0 in league play. It was also the seventh straight victory for the Bulldogs, who have outscored opponents 328-68 in that span.
After a scoreless first quarter, Jake Gassman sparked the offense with a 47-yard punt return, which led to a 20-point second quarter for the Bulldogs.
Their second scoring drive took just three plays, starting at their own 37-yard line. Broughton ran it six yards before senior quarterback Austin Hinck connected with Zach Davis for a 53-yard reception that took the Bulldogs down to the 6. Broughton ran it in for 6-yard touchdown.
The next drive also took just three plays, including a 66-yard run by Johnny Laughlin. Cale Garrett ran for eight and set it up for Broughton to run it in from the 4. By the end of the first half, Broughton had 128 yards on 13 carries.
“Offensively we were sputtering a little bit, but special teams kept winning the battle of field position,” Jones said. “Then that punt return threw a little gas on the fire and the kids rolled on that momentum and were able to score three touchdowns in the second quarter.”
With the punt return and an early fumble recovery by Bryan Hobbs, Kearney never started deeper than its own 21 in the first half.
Winnetonka managed just 85 yards of offense and one touchdown, scored on a 5-yard run by junior running back Marquise Doherty. Kearney, on the other hand, had 360 yards of offense and four touchdowns for the eighth time in nine games.
Broughton added one more touchdown on a 6-yard run in the fourth quarter, sealing the victory for the Bulldogs.
“The conference championship is huge and even bigger for us, it is the finish to another undefeated season at home,” Broughton said. “We came out and we played tough.”