VICTORIA, KS — Going to the air and taking advantage of multiple Victoria miscues helped the St. Francis Indian football team overcome a first half deficit and punch their ticket to state for the second year in a row.
The Indians defeated the Knights 44-22 but the game proved to be closer than the final score indicated as Sainty trailed for the first time all season in the second quarter and used the passing game to provide the spark that led them to victory.
The game started like a lot of Indian contests with Shadyron Blanka, on the third play of the game, busting off a 38-yard touchdown run to put the SFHS up 8-0 a 1:15 into the game. Then the Sainty defense forced a four-and-out and it looked like the Indians might start to runaway with it.
But that’s when Victoria played their best ball of the night. The Knights defense forced back-to-back turnover on downs while their offense scored on consecutive possessions. VHS quarterback Grant Schoenrock broke free for a 38-yard touchdown run of is own to make it 8-6. And then Carson Werth capped a ten play drive with a two-yard touchdown run and two point conversion to give the Knights the lead 14-8 early in the second quarter.
It marked the first time this season that the Indians had trialed in a ballgame.
Just moments later the game turned thanks to Sainty’s improved ability to throw the football as the Indians faced a fourth down and six sophomore quarterback Ben Busse found senior end Kobe Tice wide open in the center of the field and hit him with a 21-yard touchdown pass that gave the Indians the lead back 16-14.
Three plays later Tice made another big play intercepting a Schoenrock pass inside VHS territory but I would lead to nothing thanks to a great defensive stop by the Knights. But the Sainty defense would force a quick three-and-out and give the ball back to their offense with just under four minutes to play before before halftime. And the Sainty offense would put together one of their better drives of the night going 67 yards in ten plays and capping with with another Blanka touchdown, this time on the receiving end from 10 yards out to make it 22-14 heading into halftime.
The second half proved to be more one-sided. Initially it looked liked the Knights might tie the game right back up but on the eighth play of their second half opening drive but they fumbled the handoff inside the Indian ten yard line give it back to St. Francis.
It was all Sainty from there. Blanka would find the end zone again from 12 yards out putting a bow on a five-play, 70-yard drive making it 28-14. And the score would remain that until the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter saw the Indians pull away thanks to Blanka & Krien rushing scoring on back-to-back possessions making it 44-14 with under two minutes to play.
Victoria would score once more, their only second half score, with under a minute a play on a Schoenrock 14-yard completion to Lucas Klein to make it the final of 44-22.
St. Francis totaled 392 yards on offense with 329 coming on the ground. Shadyron Blanka totaled 251 yards on the ground plus ten yards receiving with four total touchdowns. Ben Busse threw for 65 yards completing four of his seven passes. Two of them for touchdowns. Josiah Sims led SFHS with 29 yards receiving.
Victoria’s 22 points scored was the most allowed by the Sainty defense all season long but they did commit three key turnovers in the loss. The Knight’s totaled 232 yards with 119 on the ground and 113 through the air. Grant Schoenrock had 64 yards rushing with a score while also throwing for 113 yards and touchdown with a pick. Carson Werth led VHS in receiving with four receptions for 36 yards.
The win improved St. Francis to 11-0 this season and put them in the state final for the second straight year and for the third time in the past five seasons. Victoria ends 2020 with 11-1 overall record.