In the first two games of the season, Salina South suffered from mental miscues.
The Cougars were mentally tough on Homecoming Night.
Junior running back Brandt Cox scored five times, Salina South locked down defensively in the second half, and the Cougars tasted victory for the first time this season with a 55-35 victory over Campus Friday night at Salina Stadium. South improved to 1-2, putting up 50-plus points for the first time since 2013 when the Cougars defeated Newton 53-30.
Salina South took the opening kick and drove 65 yards on eight plays, resulting in a five-yard score for Cox. Campus returned the ensuing kickoff to the Salina South 31. Tailback Remey Buckles scampered into the end zone from nine yards out, knotting up the score at 7-7 with 5:58 to play in the opening stanza.
The Cougars’ response – a 92-yard kickoff return by Cox for the second South touchdown.
Campus (1-2) almost punted the ball away. However, punter Tayton Rico scrambled to the near side of the field, and found space, converting with a 15-yard run. Nine plays later, quarterback Braelyn Jay scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak, grabbing a 14-13 advantage with no time remaining in the quarter.
After a quick three-and-out, Campus started its next drive from its own nine. The Colts constructed a 17-play, 91-yard drive that saw three third-down conversions and a fourth. The final play came from Jay, who ran 15 yards to the goal line, pushing the lead out to 21-13 with 1:48 to go.
South calmly marched down the field, setting up a third and goal from the eight with five seconds left in the half. Sophomore quarterback Weston Fries eluded the pocket and found Cox, who scored after receiving the H&R Block of the Game from senior receiver Zach Davidson. Fries found senior wide out Colin Schreiber for the two-point conversion, locking up the score at 21-all at intermission.
The Cougars controlled the second half. Fries set the tone with his arm, bombing an 85-yard TD pass to junior Carter Copes on the second drive of the third quarter.
Campus was 11-of-14 on third downs in the first two periods, but only converted once in the third frame.
South’s defense allowed the Cougars to build a two-score lead. Salina South found the goal line on a one-yard plunge by Cox with 1:15 to go. Campus battled back with a quick 58-yard TD run by Corbin Williams.
Salina South sealed the deal with two more scores. Fries lobbed a four-yard pass to Schreiber for a score followed by an eight-yard run by Cox with 5:12 remaining in the contest.
Cox ran for 112 yards and three scores on 24 carries, notching a receiving and special teams touchdown as well. Fries finished with 249 yards and four touchdowns, two to Schreiber.
Salina South heads to Derby next Friday. The Freddy’s and Mokas Pregame Show begins at 6:45 on Y93.7.
*PHOTOS BY TANNER COLVIN*