By Nick Hampton
VIAN — A costly penalty opened the gates to 20 unanswered points for the third-ranked Vian Wolverines as they move on in the in the Class 2A playoffs with a 40-14 first-round victory against the Haskell Haymakers Friday night.
It was the final two and one-half minutes of the first half that proved devastating for the Haymakers.
Clinging to a 7-0 lead, Vian faced a fourth and 15 from the Haskell 25. Quarterback Rylee Simon’s pass fell incomplete, but the Haymakers were flagged for roughing the passer and that gave Vian new life with a first down at the Haskell 13.
On the next play, Eric Casey, who paced the Wolverines’ offense with 22 carries for 110 yards, swept wide for a touchdown to increase the lead to 14-0.
On the second play following the kickoff, Haskell quarterback Brody Enkey was picked off by Vian’s Shamal Evans to put Vian at the Haskell 46. Two plays later, Simon found tight end Dakota Brown for a 44-yard touchdown pass with 44 seconds left in the half,
It looked like the Haymakers would get on the board after Alex Wheeland returned the kickoff to the Vian 15 yard line and a personal foul call against the Wolverines moved it to the 4.
But the Wolverine defense showed its teeth as the Haymakers lost three yards in three plays before Wheeland was thrown for a loss and fumbled the ball away on fourth down.
With time running out, the Wolverines reached into their bag of tricks and executed the hook and ladder play perfectly with Simon hitting Evans, who lateraled to a trailing Casey, who won a foot race down the sideline hitting the pylon as time expired in the first half. Vian led 27-0 at halftime.
Vian coach Brandon Tyler said the trick play was the big turning point in the game.
“We took a time out there and talked about it,” he said. “It was the first time we’ve run it all year and hadn’t even practiced it much. But we saw the coverage they were playing with man-to-man and thought we could get to the sideline and make it work.”
Haskell coach Greg Wilson said the key play was the costly roughing the passer call.
“Momentum really switched at that point,” he said. “We were looking to get the ball back and, if nothing else, go into the locker room just down seven.”
Penalties marred the game with a total of 31, including 20 of those against the Haymakers.
In a bizzare series early in the third quarter, Haskell was moving the ball deep into Wolverine territory when Evans grabbed the second of what would be three interceptions for the senior.
But before Vian ran a play, Haskell drew three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, two of those on Wilson which led to his ejection from the game.
Vian ended up with the ball at the Haymaker 21 after the 45 yards in penalties were walked off and Casey scored on a one-yard run four plays later to make it 34-0.
In the fourth quarter, the Haymakers drove from their own 22 to the Vian 4 where the Wolverines slammed the door shut again on fourth down. But Casey fumbled the ball back to Haskell on the next play. It took Wheeland just one play to go seven yards for the Haymakers’ first score to cut Vian’s lead to 34-6.
Each team got one more score in the fourth quarter.
The Wolverine hero of night was Evans with three interceptions as well as being the hook in the hook and ladder play.
“The hook and ladder? Yeah I was a little bit scared about that one,” Evans said. “But it turned out great because Eric Casey ran the ball great after I got it to him.”
The Wolverines remain undefeated at 11-0 and will host Salina next Friday night in the second round of the playoffs.
VIAN 40 HASKELL 14
VIAN 7 20 7 6
HASKELL 0 0 0 14
VHS- Rylee Simon 15 run (Rodriguez kick) 7:12
VHS-Eric Casey 13 run (Rodriguez kick) 2:30
VHS-Dakota Brown 44 pass from Simon (Rodriguez kick) :44
VHS-Casey 76 pass from Simon/Shamal Evans (kick failed) :00
VHS-Casey 1 run (Rodriguez kick) 5:46
HHS-Alex Wheeland 7 run (conversion failed) 6:51
VHS-Josh Cowart 40 pass from Simon (kick failed) 2:48
HHS-Chris Wright 34 pass from Brody Enkey (Jordan Pressley run) 1:55
First Downs 9 8
Rushes-Yards 33-155 32-19
Passing Yards 233 107
Passes (C-A-I) 7-22-0 12-22-3
Fumbles-lost 1 1
Punts-Avg 5-33 5-29
Penalties-yards 11-99 20-175
RUSHING- VHS Casey 22-110; HHS 21-12
PASSSING- VHS Simon 7-22,223,3TD; HHS Enkey 12-21,107,1 TD
RECEIVING- VHS-Casey 1-76 ;HHS Wright 3-43