When can something be both beautiful and ugly?
Blue Springs High School football coach Kelly Donohoe answered that oxymoronic question after watching running back Cade Musser throw what proved to be the game-winning, 20-yard touchdown pass to Matt Marzolf on a fourth-and-six play that caught the host Lee’s Summit Titans off guard in a 19-6 Wildcats victory that featured two of the premier teams in the state.
“The touchdown was beautiful,” said Donohoe, who jokingly called out Musser for the lack of aesthetics in his postgame session with the team, “but that had to be the ugliest pass I’ve ever seen. We’ve been working on that play all week, and Cade told us how he has this great arm. Well, he got the job done, and that’s all that matters.”
Chase Donohoe, the coach’s son and Wildcats starting quarterback, told his new teammate not to worry about the quality of the pass.
“In the newspaper, it will be a touchdown, that’s all that matters,” said Donohoe, who completed 13 of 21 passes for 140 yards. “That was one of the biggest offensive plays of the game, but the win happened because of our defense. Wow! I think we have the best defense in the state.”
There would be few arguments after the 2-0 Wildcats (2-0 Suburban Big Seven) held the 1-1 Titans (1-1 Big Seven) – who had 544 yards of offense in last week’s 49-28 win over Blue Springs South – to just 61 yards on the ground and 201 total yards.
“They had just 61 yards on the ground?” asked defensive end Daniel Parker, who played both offense and defense for the Wildcats. “That’s unbelievable. I knew we were good, but man, that’s great defense.”
On the second play of the game, which was played in front of a standing-room-only crowd Friday night at West, Blue Springs linebacker Drake Foreman picked off a pass at the 20 and returned it 17 yards to the West 2-yard line.
Michael Warmack then scored on a short run and Musser bulled his way into the end zone on a 2-point conversion.
“That’s what we’re going to do, when we score early, is get that 2-point conversion and show we came to play,” said Musser, a transfer from St. Joseph Central. “Taking an 8-0 lead against an explosive team like West is huge.”
Azaiah Bello then picked off a second-quarter pass and appeared to have a 54-yard pick-six, but a penalty brought the ball back to midfield.
No problem as Musser hit Marzolf with his ugly-duckling touchdown pass. Again, Musser scored on a 2-point run and it was 16-0 at halftime.
“The defense set up both of our touchdowns and played great all night,” Musser said. “Enough guys have been giving me a hard time about the pass, so I’m going to spend a little extra time on throwing the ball next week at practice.”
While Foreman and Bello’s thefts set up both scores, an iconic defensive stand near the goal line preserved the win.
Despite featuring some of the premier backs in the metro area, West could not find the end zone as Khristian Boyd, Parker and Co., stopped the Titans cold on two fourth-and-inches runs in the second quarter.
“It wasn’t just what happened tonight when we stopped them on the fourth and inches,” said Parker, who had a late sack in the game, “it was a culmination of blood, sweat and tears from all the hard work we put in this summer and at practice every day. We knew we couldn’t let them in the end zone and made sure that didn’t score.”
Boyd, who plays defensive tackle, added, “There was a lot of talk, and we let our play do all the talking we needed. That defensive stand on their goal line, our fans, the atmosphere – those are things I will never forget and will cherish the rest of my life.”
The No. 7 state-ranked Titans made things interesting with a Cade Clemons 15-yard touchdown reception from Ben Kobel at 6:34 of the third period, but their 2-point run failed and the No. 1 ranked Wildcats had a 16-6 lead.
Late in the game, the Wildcats got the ball and marched down the field for a 21-yard Sam Knowlton field goal with just four seconds left to ice it.
Kelly Donohoe said the reason for the late score came down to district points.
“District points are huge, and the most points you can get in a district game is 13,” Donohoe explained. “If you win by 1, you get 1. If you win by 13 – like we were able to do tonight – you get 13, so that was big. Every year in every district, a team gets knocked down because of the 13 spread, so if you can get to 13 you have to do it.”
Warmack finished the night with 21 carries for 100 yards and Musser finished with 16 carries for 69 yards.