OTIS — The Thunder Ridge High School football team proved too much for Otis-Bison.
The Longhorns, led by running back Joel Struckhoff, raced ahead for an early 24-0 lead on their way to a 54-26 win in an Eight-Man Division-II state playoffs semifinal game.
“Defensively, we didn’t get the stops we needed to get,” Cougars head coach Travis Starr said. “Offensively, we put together some drives, just not enough of them. These kids played hard. We fought until the end, so I’m proud of every one of them.”
Thunder Ridge (12-0) will face Baileyville B & B on Saturday at Fischer Field in Newton.
Struckhoff started the scoring off for the Longhorns on a 5-yard scamper. He finished the game with five rushing touchdowns and 210 yards.
The Longhorns scored again on a 15-yard pass from quarterback Blane Hrabe to Austin Herman to build up a 16-0 lead after one quarter.
Struckhoff rattled off a 54-yard score to jump ahead 24-0 before Otis-Bison got on the scoreboard.
With five minutes remaining in the first half, the Cougars made a 55-yard drive that was capped by a 5-yard pass from Trevor Keller to Brandon Pechanec, who made a diving grab to score as the clock ran out.
Otis-Bison received the ball to start the second half.
“We got some momentum going, and we got the ball back in the second half,” Starr said. “We were able to do some good things. But when we can’t get stops, and you work so hard to score. They hit us with big plays. It just starts draining you.”
Keller capped a 53-yard drive with a 1-yard dive into the end zone to narrow the gap to 24-14. The Cougars never closed the gap further.
“We thought that we could throw it around a little bit earlier in the week,” Keller said. “That’s what we really came out and tried to do in the second half. We scored that touchdown right after we came out, and we were pretty pumped about that.
“We thought we could throw it around, but unfortunately some things happen. They are a really good team.”
Dylan Wissman, who led Otis-Bison (10-2) with 80 rushing yards, scored on a 19-yard pass from Keller and Patrick Piper, who added 77 yards on the ground, scored from one yard out.
“We took the ball off the ground and started putting the ball in the air a little bit,” Starr said. “We were having some success a little bit. You know, we just couldn’t keep drives going long enough to put the ball in the end zone.”
However Struckhoff scored on 27-, 14- and 19-yard runs, and Trevor Lowe scored a 39-yard rushing touchdown on his way to 172 yards on the night.
Keller finished the night completing 11 of 21 passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 38 yards and one TD.
“He’s been reading pretty well when we gave him time to throw it and our receivers were getting open,” Starr said. “Then they hit us with a couple of blitzes, but he was reading the field pretty well tonight and throwing good balls.”
Thunder Ridge 54, Otis-Bison 26
Thunder Ridge 16 8 14 6 — 54
Otis-Bison 0 8 12 16 — 26
Thunder Ridge — Joel Struckhoff 5 run (Blane Hrabe run), 8:34
Thunder Ridge — Austin Herman 15 pass from Hrabe (Trevor Lowe run), 1:13
Thunder Ridge — Struckhoff 54 run (Lowe run), 5:00
Otis-Bison — Brandon Pechanec 5 pass from Trevor Keller (Pechanec pass from Keller ), :00
Otis-Bison — Keller 1 run (pass failed), 7:42
Thunder Ridge — Struckhoff 27 run (Lowe run), 6:24
Otis-Bison — Dylan Wissman 19 pass from Keller (pass failed), 5:36
Thunder Ridge — Lowe 39 run (pass failed), 0:07
Thunder Ridge — Struckhoff 14 run (Lowe pass from Hrabe), 10:22
Thunder Ridge — Struckhoff 19 run (Struckhoff pass from Hrabe), 5:39
Otis-Bison — Patrick Piper 1 run (pass failed), 031
State football playoffs
Olathe East 46, SM West 16
Olathe South 55, SM East 42
Wichita Heights 35, Garden City 3
Derby 39, Manhattan 28
Blue Valley Stilwell 24, SM Miege 21
Gardner-Edgerton 32, Shawnee Heights 0
Wichita Carroll 40, Emporia 7
Hutchinson 42, Wichita Kapaun 14
Paola 35, Blue Valley Southwest 21
Eudora 23, Chanute 14
Topeka Hayden 21, Buhler 14
Rose Hill 56, Ulysses 14
Rock Creek 16, Caney 8
Silver Lake 26, Galena 6
Garden Plain 50, Beloit 34
Conway Springs 39, Scott City 21
Pittsburg Colgan 59, Doniphan West 14
Centralia 52, Riverside 18
Plainville 6, Stanton County 0
LaCrosse 21, Meade 12
Madison 52, Lakeside 6
South Gray 42, Osborne 38
Thunder Ridge 54, Otis-Bison 26
Baileyville B & B 42, South Haven 20