Blue Springs South football coach Jon Oyler terms Rockhurst a very solid team that “makes you make mistakes.”
Oyler’s team ultimately made a few too many mistakes to overcome Friday against the visiting Hawklets, as the defending Class 6 state champion Jaguars stumbled to 0-2 this season with a 14-7 loss.
South committed six turnovers, the last two of which Rockhurst (2-0) converted into touchdowns early in the fourth quarter.
Brody Parker piloted a frantic 71-yard drive in 12 plays for South’s lone score late in the fourth, as Parker carried the final yard with 1:20 left and Jake Roark added the extra point.
But Roark’s onside kick attempt bounced a bit too high and out of bounds, and Rockhurst kneeled out the clock.
“They’re a good football team, and I’m proud of our team,” Oyler said. “We fought the whole time. Hopefully every week we’re continuing to improve.”
At first, the Jaguars’ mistakes negated their own scoring chances. Three interceptions came in Rockhurst territory – the second off a botched field goal attempt when Cale Connors got hit as he threw.
Late in the second quarter, South took over at the Rockhurst 23 following a short punt from the end zone. On first down from the 12, Rockhurst’s Cameron Reller sacked Brody Parker, and on the next snap a harassed Parker had his pass deflected and picked off by the defensive line.
In the third quarter, a holding penalty negated what would’ve been a 48-yard interception return for a TD by the Jaguars’ Ross Elder. But on the last play of the period Brady McCanles snagged the third interception thrown by Camden Sprouse, this time setting up Rockhurst at the South 15.
On the first play of the fourth, Rockhurst quarterback Chance May scored a 15-yard keeper.
“We had to (score there),” Rockhurst coach Tony Severino said. “I told them I’ll take 3-0. We’re not going to win too many games by a lot of points.
“Their defense is awfully good,” the longtime coach said of South. “They’ve got some starters back from last year, and they pressure you a lot.”
The Hawklets then got another chance when Elder recovered a muffed handoff by South near midfield. On third-and-long Elder hauled in a 36-yard heave from May between two defenders, setting up McCanles’ 5-yard scoring plunge with 8:37 remaining.
Oyler said that while the Jaguars generally were stout on defense, “When the going got tough, we’d get a couple mental lapses, like on a deep ball.
“Our offense played well; we moved the ball.”
South’s passing game generally clicked in the first half, but the offense sputtered after halftime, managing just one first down until the last-ditch scoring drive.
Sprouse and Parker combined for 12-of-25 passing for 125 yards, and the Jaguars had 73 yards on the ground. Punter Jake Roark was a bright spot, averaging 43 yards on four boots including a 77-yarder.
Rockhurst managed just 172 yards of offense and didn’t have a first down in the third quarter, leading Severino to call Friday “one of the ugliest games I’ve seen.”
But the Hawklets didn’t commit any turnovers, and Severino applauded a defense that he said has made big strides from last year.
“We’re long, and we knocked down a lot of passes and got into passing lanes,” he said. “That’s our team; that’s the team we’ll be.”