Topeka High sophomore star Ky Thomas rushed for 175 yards and a touchdown Friday night against Junction City, despite the fact that the Blue Jays were keying on him throughout the game.
But it was Thomas’ only passing attempt that proved to be the clincher in the Trojans’ 42-28 Centennial League victory at Hummer Sports Park.
High, which improved to 2-0 overall and in the league, never trailed against Junction City (0-2, 0-2), but the Blue Jays never went away, clawing within a touchdown (35-28) with 3:38 remaining on a 7-yard scoring run from junior quarterback Rooster Adams, who also ran for a 2-point conversion.
That put Topeka High in a position of needing at least a couple of first downs to put the game away. As it turned out, the Trojans got much more, with Thomas taking the ball on a halfback pass and finding a wide-open Larry White for a 76-yard touchdown to give High its final margin with 2:16 left.
“We had run that in practice a few times, like two or three,” Thomas said. “We were going to save it for the playoffs but we ended up running it today in a crucial situation. It was third and long and we needed to convert to put our defense in a good situation and we ended up getting a touchdown.”
White, a senior who caught three passes for 110 yards, said he only had one thought on his mind as the play unfolded.
“Yeah, I was just thinking, ‘Don’t drop it,’ because I had dropped one earlier,” White said. “So right when it came to me I knew I had to make something big happen.”
After the TD, Junction City moved deep into Trojan territory, but junior Deandre Anderson ended the threat with an interception.
Topeka High took advantage of Junction City turnovers on the Blue Jays’ first three possessions of the game to build a 14-2 lead with 2:43 left in the first quarter.
Trojan sophomore quarter Da’Vonshai Harden scored from 14 yards out with 8:48 left in the first, four plays after an interception by Topeka High junior linebacker Carson Klingerman (Tanner Scritchfield kick).
Junction City drove to the Trojan 3-yard-line on its next possession before junior lineman Grant Cooney recovered a fumble at the 2. The Blue Jays recorded a safety on Topeka High’s first play from scrimmage to make the score 7-2 with 6:41 left in the quarter.
Junction City moved the ball into Topeka High territory again before Anderson recovered a fumble. The Trojans capitalized six plays later, with Harden scoring from 2 yards out (Scritchfield kick) to make the score 14-2 at 2:43 mark of the opening period.
Junction City answered with a 1-yard run by Adams early in the second quarter but junior Jacquez Barksdale scored on a 20-yard run for Topeka High with 7: 56 left in the half (Scritchfield kick) to make it 21-8 High.
The Blue Jays wouldn’t go away, however, with Adams connecting with sophomore Ethan Alcorn for an 8-yard touchdown pass with 1:16 left to pull Junction City within 21-14 at the half. The Blue Jays came up empty on both of their 2-point conversion attempts in the half.
Topeka High made it 28-14 on a 14-yard Thomas TD with 8:35 left in the third quarter, but Junction City answered with a 50-yard punt return for a touchdown from junior Aaron Hamilton.
Topeka High made it 35-20 on a 6-yard TD run from Harden before Adams’ TD made things interesting down the stretch.
Harden had 91 rushing yards and 54 passing yards and ran for three touchdowns while Barksdale rushed for 110 yards on 13 carries.
Junct. City (0-2, 0-2) 2 12 6 8 — 28
Top. High (2-0, 2-0) 14 7 7 14 — 42
High — Harden 14 run (Scritchfield kick)
Junction City — Safety, Thomas tackled in end zone
High — Harden 2 run (Scritchfield kick)
Junction City — Adams 1 run (run failed)
High — Barksdale 20 run (Scritchfield kick)
Junction City — Alcorn 8 pass from Adams (pass failed)
High — Thomas 14 run (Scritchfield kick)
Junction City — Hamilton 50 punt return (run failed)
High — Harden 6 run (Scritchfield kick)
Junction City — Adams 7 run (Adams run)
High — White 76 pass from Thomas (Scritchfield kick)
GAME IN FIGURES
First downs … 19 … 21
Rushes-yards … 58-272 … 52-376
Passing yards … 121 … 130
Passes … 10-17-2 … 5-9-1
Fumbles-lost … 3-2 … 1-0
Punts … 3-26.3 … 3-33.3
Penalties-yards … 4-28 … 10-85
RUSHING — Junction City: Adams 19-99, Hamilton 9-70, R. Wilkey 14-59, B. Wilkey 14-39, Alcorn 1-4, Randolph 1-1. Topeka High: Thomas 21-175, Barksdale 13-110, Harden 18-91.
PASSING — Junction City: Adams 10-17-2, 121 yards. Topeka High: Harden 4-8-1, 54; Thomas 1-1-0, 76.
RECEIVING — Junction City: Alcorn 4-80, Bazan 3-27, B. Wilkey 1-13, Etheridge 1-9, R. Wilkey 1-0. Topeka High: White 3-110, Barksdale 1-18, Essman 1-2.
PUNTING — Junction City: King 3-26.3. Topeka High: Gage 3-33.3.