The Salina Central football team looked to make it three wins in nearly a calendar year against the Goddard-Eisenhower Tigers, but Friday night at the Goddard District Stadium, the tables were turned as Central could not overcome numerous stalled drives and a pair of big plays that led to Eisenhower scores. The Tigers’ defense stepped up when they needed to, intercepting Mustang quarterback Jackson Kavanagh in the end zone with five seconds left to preserve a 21-14 win.
The hosts started fast as Mason Turney hauled in a 66-yard catch and run for a touchdown to put the hosts in front 7-0 just 71 seconds into the contest.
Each team traded punts, then the Mustangs marched downfield and senior wide receiver Logan Heigele found himself wide open for a 32-yard TD reception from Kavanagh and a 7-7 tie with 3:32 left in the opening quarter.
Neither team scored in the second quarter as the defenses took control. The Tigers hurt themselves with penalties while the Mustangs could not establish the run effectively nor hit enough big plays through the air.
Early in the third quarter, disaster struck the Mustangs as a bad snap led to punter Jaxon Kolzow getting tackled at his own seven-yard-line. Three plays later, Eisenhower QB Blake Coyne found his tight end Nick Hogan for a five-yard score and a 14-7 lead.
The Mustangs would answer moments later. Heigele set things up with a 52-yard catch and run to the Eisenhower 20. Kavanagh found him over the middle on the next play for a touchdown and the PAT from Kray True knotted things up at 14-14.
The Tigers responded with their best drive of the night. The key was running back Parker Wenzel, who ran hard between the tackles and then capped the drive with a nine-yard scamper where he bounced out to the right side, eluded tacklers, stayed inbounds and found the pylon for a touchdown and a 21-14 lead.
The Central defense did their part after that, but the offense was unable to complete a drive the rest of the way. The Tigers did not allow the ground game to get going and Kavanagh was under pressure throughout the effort to come back.
Kavanagh threw for 246 yards and the Mustangs out-gained the Tigers unofficially 289-216 in yardage, but it was Eisenhower earning the win for their new head coach Darrin Fisher.
It goes without saying, but next week will be even tougher for the Mustangs as they will host defending 6A champion Derby. The Panthers rolled past Garden City on the road in their opener, 48-19.