Really, it was a matter of time for Rockhurst High School. To be exact, 37 minutes, 21 seconds.
In its 14-13 triumph over Blue Springs on Friday night at Rockhurst, the Hawklets blanked the Wildcats over the final 37:21 of the game between Missouri Class 6 powerhouses.
“I said if we stopped the big plays, we’d have a chance,” Rockhurst Coach Tony Severino said. “The defense stepped up and we got a few breaks.”
Rockhurst, 5-1 overall and No. 6 in The Star’s big-class rankings, overcame a 13-point deficit to upend Blue Springs, 4-2 and the No. 4-ranked big-class team.
Friday night’s victory was special for the Hawklets, as in special teams.
Rockhurst blocked two field goals and recovered their own onside kick to begin the second half. Hawklets’ senior split end and cornerback Will Bazzle, who blocked one of the field goals, credited Rockhurst assistant coach Stephen Charbonneau for setting the stage for the special teams’ success.
“Coach Charbonneau gets us in the right places. He puts us in position and we went with it,” Bazzle said.
The Hawklets’ special teams units definitely made a huge difference, Blue Springs Coach Kelly Donohoe said.
“We missed an extra point and had two field goals blocked and I’m just sick about it,” Donohoe said. “They got penetration on our right side. We just made special teams errors. At the same time, they (Rockhurst) did what they had to do.”
Rockhurst’s next-to-final task featured them keeping Blue Springs from scoring one final time. The Wildcats faced fourth-and-13 at their 39-yard line when quarterback Ian Brown hooked up with Kori Cheatham. The problem for Blue Springs was that it gained just seven yards, and Rockhurst took over with 99 seconds remaining.
Rockhurst didn’t take its first lead until early in the fourth quarter. Junior tailback A. J. Taylor’s 4-yard scoring run and the extra point by Jackson Terry put the Hawklets on top for good with 10:46 left in the game.
Taylor, who finished with 103 yards in 11 carries, said the key for him was seeing the field. Obviously, he liked what he saw when the clock’s final second ticked away.
“The key was to keep my eyes open. As soon as I saw something open up, I just took it,” Taylor said.
Blue Springs, two-time defending state champions, was taking it to Rockhurst from the outset.
The Wildcats didn’t waste any time. They marched on the opening kickoff 65 yards in seven plays, capped by Brown’s 39-yard scoring strike to running back Cobi Bissell. Blue Springs added to its advantage when Brown hit Terrance Sanders for a 49-yard touchdown pass.
Rockhurst went all smashmouth on Blue Springs in response. The Hawklets marched 67 yards in 12 plays, all of them coming via the run, and got on the board when Taylor carried it in from 3 yards with 3:04 to go before halftime. Based on the results, the Hawklets owned what happened after intermission.
“Feels great,” Taylor said.