By Kim Staudinger
RUDYARD It was a battle of two undefeated teams Saturday afternoon in Rudyard in the second round of the 8-man football playoffs, pitting the Blue Sky/KG Eagles against the Trojans from Drummond.
As is with most battles of undefeated teams, players, along with spectators, expect a close game. What the fans who traveled to Rudyard saw was anything but a close game as the Eagles cruised to a 62-24 victory.
While both teams scored on their second possession of the first quarter, keeping the game tight, things began to fall apart for Drummond. The Eagles picked up and showed to all why they are undefeated, scoring 27 straight points, heading into the half.
"Overall it was a tremendous team effort," Eagles head coach Gregg Wasson said. "Every kid did their job."
Everything was working for junior quarterback Jon Lipp as he ran for two touchdowns in the first half and passed for another two, guiding the dominant Blue Sky/KG offense.
Lipp starting the scoring spree with a four-yard run at the 4:17 mark in the first quarter. The Eagles attempted the extra-point kick, but it failed. However, Drummond was penalized on the play, giving the Eagles another opportunity. And, as they did all afternoon, the Eagles capitalized on Drummond's mistake as senior Kyle Reynolds ran the ball in for the two-point conversion.
Drummond followed on its next possession with a 53-yard pass from Lance Anderson to Cole Mannix. The halfback pass was intercepted in the end zone by Casey Crites, leaving the score at 8-6. Drummond's score took only 30 seconds off the clock, giving the ball back to the Eagles with 3:37 remaining in the first quarter.
Blue Sky/KG got the ball with great field position, setting up the drive downfield. Ten plays and two Trojan penalties later, Lipp launched a 16-yard pass to Casey Crites, who barely kept his toes inbounds for the score with 15 seconds remaining in the quarter. Crites followed with the extra-point kick, giving the Eagles a 15-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
While the offense continued to shine in the second quarter, the defense also picked up the intensity and let the Trojans know the only way out would be with a loss.
The Eagles defense held Drummond to only 17 yards rushing, capped by Roger Larson's 14 tackles and two sacks and Tel Sterner's four sacks. The Eagles totaled nine sacks for the game.
"With nine sacks, that quarterback was on his back a lot," Wasson said. "That shows a great team effort on the defensive side. We really have to be happy with our kids."
Keenan Toner started the scoring run in the second quarter, catching a 27-yard pass from Lipp. The pass appeared as if it would be intercepted, but Toner came out of nowhere, staying in bounds and dashing to the end zone.
On the Eagles' next series, Reynolds ran two yards for the score, giving Blue Sky/KG a 28-6 lead. Lipp added another two-yard run at the end of the quarter, mounting a 35-6 halftime lead for the Eagles.
"It was not the outcome we expected," Wasson said. "We knew they were a very sound football team. They have a great tailback and we held him. It was a great team effort.
"We executed our game plan and took them out of theirs"
Drummond, who was forced to pass the ball in the second half, scored to open the third quarter on a 33-yard pass to Michael Hash for the Trojan's only score of the quarter.
Reynolds added two touchdown runs for the Eagles, the first a 54-yard run, followed by a 3-yard run minutes later, increasing the lead to 49-12 after three quarters of play.
Both teams scored two touchdowns in the final quarter, to end the game with a 62-24 win for Blue Sky/KG.
"Our backs ran hard, our quarterback threw the ball real well and our receivers made some great catches," Wasson said, noting the win was a total team effort. "We only punted the ball one time (on the first series of the game) and that was it."
Lipp finished the game completing 9-of-13 passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Larson ended with 18 carries for 152 yards and two touchdowns, followed by Reynolds with 18 carries for 126 yards and three touchdowns.
The Eagles face defending state champion, Wibaux at home on Saturday in the next round of the 8-man playoffs.