The momentum Blue Springs had at the end of the first half against Lee’s Summit extended to Saturday after the game was suspended because of a Friday night thunderstorm.
It certainly carried over for Wildcats running back Jaylen Ivey and his offensive line.
At the end of the first half the night before, quarterback Chase Donohoe hit Tyree King for a 30-yard touchdown as time expired to cut the deficit to 30-23 before lightning brought a halt to the game.
The next day, it was Ivey time.
He rushed for 262 of his career-high 386 yards in the second half and scored a whopping seven times to propel his team to a 58-45 win over the Tigers in the season-opening Suburban Big Seven showdown.
“He’s a special back,” Blue Springs coach Kelly Donohoe said of the junior. “He’s a power guy. We told him we were going to run him hard in the second half. We really like our offensive guys up front, our fullback and tailback. That’s been our style of football.
“I told Chase there are going to be games like this where you have to be a great team guy. And he loves that. He wants to win.”
Right out of the gate Saturday, Ivey busted through a big hole up the middle and juked a defender on the way to a 73-yard scamper to knot the score at 30-all. After Blue Springs got the ball back on its own 35-yard line on a turnover on downs, fullback Caleb Marquez made an impressive leaping catch on a high heave from Chase Donohoe at the Lee’s Summit 2. Ivey capped it off with a 2-yard plunge to give the Wildcats their first lead of the game at 37-30.
Ivey’s defense backed up his monster game with a much-improved second half after Lee’s Summit moved the ball at will Friday. Wildcats defensive end J.D. Peery accounted for one of three Lee’s Summit second-half turnovers as he knocked the ball out of Sam Buckner’s hands after a catch at the 14 and recovered the fumble.
“I just read the quarterback, and he didn’t see me and I just went in there and made a play,” Peery said.
Ivey then took advantage when his offensive line again opened up a huge hole on the right side and he raced along the right sideline 86 yards for a score and a 44-30 edge.
The Tigers closed the gap to 44-39 after a safety on a muffed snap on a punt, and a 2-yard touchdown run from Preston Whitworth with 10:39 left after the free kick.
Ivey was there to kill the Tigers’ momentum, however. On the next drive, he broke loose for a 31-yard TD run after he juked a pair of defenders. He then delivered the backbreaker with a 14-yard jaunt with about 5 minutes remaining to make it 58-39.
“He came off a strong sophomore season, so I knew he had it in him,” Wildcats lineman Daniel Parker Jr. said. “He didn’t get that many carries last year, but today he played amazing.”
Afterward, Ivey said on Twitter that he was going to take his offensive line out for dinner after it opened up so many huge holes for him.
“We knew coming into yesterday, we knew we had to turn it around,” Ivey said. “We got to watching the film and we totally changed (the blocking schemes). We changed the schemes and got a couple of people blocking different men. It made a huge difference.”
Added Parker: “This will be one of the best offensive lines to come through Blue Springs.”
In addition to Peery’s fumble recovery, Jackson Blauw picked off a Dalton Hill pass on a crossing route at the 15-yard line as Lee’s Summit was driving and returned it to the Blue Springs 29, and Keith McFarlane capped the win with an interception in the end zone as time expired.
The defense looked a lot better in the second half as it forced three turnovers and allowed just 15 points. The Wildcats kept the Tigers’ no-huddle spread offense in check after it moved the ball nearly at will Friday.
“We’re going to be really, really good on defense,” Kelly Donohoe said. “We have a great personnel. We did have three starters out today – two for personal things and one for an injury. That didn’t help, but we’ll get two of those guys back next week, which will be good. That was a tough offense to defend and they are as good as you will see anywhere.
“I told people that’s going to be a really good football team,” he added of Lee’s Summit. “That team is going to be in the hunt. It didn’t surprise me what they did. I am proud of the way our guys responded today.”