Thunder and lightning stuck Larry Stewart Memorial Stadium late Friday night, but it wasn’t the kind of inclement weather that has played havoc with area sporting events the past few days.
No, thunder and lightning came in the form of back-to-back interception returns for touchdowns by Blue Springs senior defensive backs Jackson Blauw – a 99 yarder – and Stephen Benson – a 35-yard pick six – that took all the momentum away from host Blue Springs South and paved the way for a 31-17 Wildcats win.
Then, to seal the deal, defensive back Mason Dunn scooped up an errant lateral to join his teammates as defensive heroes who turned the game around late in the fourth quarter.
“I wasn’t going to score on that play because I didn’t want to take any attention away from Jackson or Stephen – two of the best D-backs in the state!” quipped a grinning Dunn, who was tackled moments after he jumped on the loose ball.
“I am so proud to be a part of this team, to be a part of our secondary and to have Matt Marble as our defensive backs coach. We were so prepared tonight, we were ready for anything.”
In what will go down as one of the more explosive contests between the two crosstown rivals, South had all the momentum in the second half.
Trailing 17-10, the Jaguars sacked starting quarterback Chase Donohoe near their goal line.
Reserve quarterback Tim Berg came in for one snap, and he could not handle the exchange from center.
The Jaguars, who had 221 yards of offense in the second half, had the ball first-and-goal at the 5-yard line.
But five plays later, Blauw picked off Camden Sprouse and returned the interception a school record 99 yards to make the score 24-10 with 7:54 left in the game.
“I read the quarterback and knew what he was going to do,” Blauw said. “Big players make big plays in big games, and that’s what we were able to do tonight. I had as much fun watching Stephen score on his pick six and I did scoring on mine.”
While Blauw has a wide open path to the end zone, Benson had to shed two would-be tacklers to strike pay dirt.
“In that situation, I knew exactly what they were going to do, and I was ready,” Benson said. “I got the interception, was able to get away from a few of their guys and had some good blocks down field. Jackson’s interception was the game-changer.
“Mine was the icing on the cake.”
South took a 17-10 lead into the half and had 249 yards of offense. But long South offensive drives and injuries to Jaylen Ivey and Donohoe held the Wildcats to just 14 yards of offense the second half.
“We’re always talking about making the big plays in big games, and that’s exactly what Jackson and Stephen did,” Wildcats coach Kelly Donohoe said after his team improved to 7-1 and remained undefeated at 5-0 in the Suburban Big Seven.
“And it was two great seniors who came up with the interceptions and then Mason picks up the lateral. Big, big plays in a big game. I couldn’t be any prouder of my guys.”
Tyree King got the Wildcats off to a thrilling start in the game with a broken-field, misdirection touchdown run of 68 yards that started to his left and finished up on his right.
“Everyone was shifting to the left,” King said, “and then I saw an opening on the right and somehow, scored. It was great to take their fans out of the game early on.”
Chase Donohoe scored the Wildcats second touchdown on a 1-yard dive into the end zone.
Tristin Williams added a 34-yard field goal and four extra points.
South’s D.J. Frost caught a 13-yard TD pass from Sprouse in the second quarter and Jake Roark added a 24-yard field goal in the third period.
The Jaguars didn’t give up at anytime in the game as Brody Parker scored on a 2-yard dive into the end zone with 5:02 left in the fourth quarter.
“Their defense turned this game around,” South coach Jon Oyler said, after his Jaguars fell to 4-4 and 10-14 in the overall series against the Wildcats. “Give them credit, they made big plays when they needed to, especially defensively.
“But our kids never give up. I was proud of the way we finished the game and scored that (last) touchdown after those two interceptions. We weren’t going to give up, no way, that’s not Blue Springs South football.”