The third player in Saturday’s Class 5 quarterfinal between Fort Osage and Kearney — a wicked 25-mph wind out of the south —was so prevalent that it caused Kearney coach Greg Jones to throw caution into the, um, wind.
By TODD ENGLE
Special to The Star
Trailing by two scores at halftime, Jones gave Fort Osage the ball to start the second half so the Bulldogs would have the wind at their back in the fourth quarter.
Kearney made the gamble pay off with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, propelling the Bulldogs to a 13-9 victory and a date with Lee’s Summit West in next week’s semifinal.
Kearney trailed 9-0 at halftime, and hadn’t moved the ball at all at that point.
“I said, ‘I’m giving the ball and the wind in the third quarter so we can have it in the fourth,’” Jones said. “I said, ‘We’ve gotta come out of this only needing two scores to win, and we will score twice in the fourth quarter.’”
Zack Davis hauled in a 4-yard touchdown pass from Austin Hinck with 2:03 remaining to give the Bulldogs, 11-1, their first lead of the game.
Hinck finished with 151 yards passing, and 98 came when Kearney got the wind in the fourth quarter.
“It felt awesome. I was just trying to be safe, and then I rolled out right. Our line did a great job giving me time,” Hinck said. “Then I found Zack in the end zone and he made a great catch.”
Fort Osage, 11-1, wasn’t able to put a drive together until late in the game — all of its points came from a defensive touchdown and a safety.
Still, the Indians moved the ball on their last possession. Quarterback Skylar Thompson led the drive, and hit receiver Willie Penamon with a strike to the 9-yard line with 30 seconds to play.
A scrum developed around Penamon, and the ball was eventually ripped from his hands. Kearney recovered the fumble, while the Fort Osage sideline argued vehemently that Penamon’s knee was down.
“It’s frustrating, but, you know, it’s part of the game,” Fort Osage coach Ryan Schartz said. “I’m real disappointed in our offense today. But give Kearney credit. They played great.”
The turnover stood, and Kearney walked away with its victory.
“Everybody kept saying it would be the best game in the Kansas City area today, and I think that held true for everybody,” Jones said.