Mustangs defeat Rams to clinch league title
West Grand clinched the high school football title in the Central Division of the North Conference on Friday night with a 46-6 victory over league rival Soroco.
The Rams of Soroco scored first in the key league match up when Richard Gonzales scored a touchdown from three yards out. The drive was built largely on the passing of Pie Lombardi, who connected with his receivers on four receptions, including a 27-yard toss to David Strait.
Soroco had stopped West Grand on its initial drive of the game and, despite the fact that the PAT for the Rams was unsuccessful, it appeared that Mustang fans were going to be treated to a battle.
The boys from West Grand responded, however, with an 11-play drive that covered 80 yards. Travis Gore scored on a three-yard run and Logan Cummings added two points on a successful PAT run. A key play in the drive was a diving catch made by Luke Miller on a 29-yard third-down pass.
The Mustangs made some defensive adjustments to what Soroco had done on its initial drive and quickly forced the Rams to punt. The two teams then traded turnovers as Gore was intercepted by Mike Rossi and, after two plays, West Grand’s Lloyd Coleman recovered a fumble by Soroco.
After the fumble recovery, Gore scored on a 37-yard touchdown as well as the two-point PAT as the Mustangs stretched its lead to 16-6. For the game, Gore ran for 123 yards on 18 carries.
West Grand again forced Soroco to punt and took possession of the ball on its own 48-yard line. Gore hit Tim Ritschard on a 27-yard pass that was the key play in a 52-yard drive. Gore then found Ritschard again on a five-yard pass for a touchdown and a 22-6 lead for the Mustangs.
On the next Soroco drive, the Rams utilized a long play and personal foul penalty by West Grand to move down the field and earn a first and goal inside the 10-yard line. The Rams’ hopes were snuffed, however, when Gore intercepted a pass five yards into the endzone and ran it back to midfield.
The Mustangs then took any suspense out of the game by driving for another touchdown, this time on a seven-yard pass from Gore to Cummings. Gore than hit Ritschard on a nice crossing pattern for two points and a 30-6 advantage that held up at halftime.
In the second half, Gore found Miller on a 15-yard pass and then hit Kylie O’Brien for a two-point conversion.
The Mustangs stopped a Soroco drive when Miller intercepted a pass and returned it to the West Grand 48-yard line. In the first play from scrimmage, Ritschard found Miller behind the Soroco secondary for a 52-yard scoring play. Gore capped of the scoring for the evening with a PAT run and the Mustangs had a 46-6 lead that triggered a running clock.
The last highlight of the game was provided by Max Wall when he recovered a Soroco fumble and the Mustangs were able to run out the clock.
West Grand rushed for 233 yards and threw for another 155 yards. In addition to the 123 yards gained by Gore, Miller rushed nine times for 79 yards. Eight different Mustangs were credited with rushing yardage.
Gore completed 11 of 18 passes for 123 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Ritschard completed the one pass for 52 yards and a score.
On Saturday, the Mustangs will travel to Vail Christian for its final regular season match of the year. The outcome of that game will not affect the league standings. In the first round of post season play, the top four teams of the Central Division will be pitted against the top four teams in the Plains Division. The top teams in each division will play the fourth-place team from the other division and the second place teams will be pitted against the third-place teams.
In that first round of post season play, West Grand will host the loser of the Sedgwick County vs. Merino game which will be played this Friday night in Merino.
After that first round, there will be 16 teams left in the playoffs. Those 16 teams will be seeded by a committee comprised of representatives from every league in the state. The outcome of that seeding process will determine future opponents and game locations.
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