Both Salina South and Hutchinson entered Friday’s contest hungry for a victory as the two combined for 1-11.
Despite 21 unanswered points in the third, the Cougars stayed winless, falling to the Salthawks 45-24 at Gowans Stadium.
Salina South received two opportunities to score in the opening frame, but only cashed in on the second forced turnover. Junior kicker Eric Rincon connected on a 27-yard field goal at the 8:31 mark in the second, giving South the game’s first lead for the second week in a row.
Hutchinson answered with three touchdowns in five minutes. Senior quarterback Trevor Rhoades scored twice on runs of 12 and 34 while classmate tailback Patrick Grabener scampered into the end zone from 25 yards out, putting the Salthawks ahead 20-3 at halftime.
South kicked off the wild third quarter with a seven-yard TD plunge by senior Kyle Quill on a drive that lasted just 1:30. The Cougars forced Hutch to punt on the ensuing drive that ended up being blocked by senior Isaac Mitchell. That special teams play set up a two-yard, scoring punch by freshman running back Brandt Cox.
The Salthawks coughed the ball up for a third time as Mitchell came up with the football after the bad exchange. A few plays later, Cox sniffed out the goal line for a 10-yard TD rush, putting the Cougars ahead 24-20 with 6:30 to play in the third.
On the next drive, Salina South wedged the ball free on a Hutch carry. The pigskin landed in the hands of senior Jayden Miller, who brought the ball inside the 30 of Hutchinson. Salina South was unable to put points on the board, keeping the Salthawks in the game.
Hutchinson responded by dominating the final period. Junior fullback Damon Cantu gave Hutch a 27-24 advantage with 9:51 left after a five-yard score. The Salthawks pushed the Cougars into a punting situation on the following drive. The backbreaker ended up being a 28-yard sprint by Grabener at the 3:05 mark, putting the game on ice.
Salina South (0-7, 0-5 AVCTL-I) returns home to face Newton on Thursday. Kickoff is at 7, pregame at 6:45 on Y93.7 and ksal.com.