Salina Central’s defense knew it would be tough to stop a Maize offense averaging 48 points per game and 402 yards of total offense.
The Mustangs slowed the high-flying Eagle attack, but it wasn’t enough as Maize remained unbeaten on the season, following a 26-8 victory at Salina Stadium Thursday night. The Eagles forced two huge turnovers that paved the way to a 7-0 start to the 2019 campaign.
After forcing a Central punt, Maize received great field position, starting its opening drive at the SC 49. The Eagles quickly marched deeper into Mustang territory, but stalled, settling for a 28-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Cole Segraves with 7:22 to go in the first.
Salina Central’s response featured a steady dose of screen passes, setting up the Mustangs near the red zone. The drive came to a screeching halt, though, after a bad handoff exchange.
Midway through the second period, Salina Central (4-3, 4-2 AVCTL-I) looked to put points on the board. Facing a 4th and 9 at the 11, Central appeared to be content with a field goal try for the tie. Instead, the offense stepped back on the field following a Maize timeout. Senior quarterback Jackson Kavanagh fired a bullet to sophomore receiver Logan Losey in the back of the end zone, but the referee ruled that the catch took place out of bounds.
Maize survived the scare and threatened to record the game’s first touchdown. Senior quarterback Cam Jurgensen zipped a pass to senior receiver Tanner Carter for five yards, but Central senior defensive back Gage Prester jarred the ball loose, allowing the Mustangs to preserve the goose egg after the deep drive by Maize.
The Eagles received the football to open the second half and gave the ball right back to the Mustangs. Dealing with a 3rd and 8 in their own territory, the Mustangs called a timeout. Immediately after the pause, Kavanagh went with a lob pass on a screen. Maize safety Colby Pivarnik was waiting, picking off the pass, swinging the game in favor of the Eagles.
Jurgensen would capitalized, finding senior receiver Preven Christon for an eight-yard score with 4:54 to go in the third. Central settled for another punt, allowing the Eagles to open up the fourth quarter with a 3rd and 5. Jurgensen tossed to a well-covered receiver. Instead of an incomplete pass, the drive would resume on a pass interference call. Central aided Maize with a personal foul penalty and the Eagles cashed in with a three-yard TD run by Caden Cox.
Behind 19-0, Central didn’t quit. Kavanagh found senior tight end Quinton Stewart on a 72-yard pass. Two plays later, Kavanagh hooked up with senior receiver Logan Heigele on a six-yard score. Heigele would get the two-point conversion, but the Mustangs would fail to recover the onside kick. With the game in control, Maize chose to throw instead of run out the close as Jurgensen lobbed a 29-yard TD pass to Carter to make the score 26-8.
Salina Central outgained Maize, 287 yards to 261. Only 83 yards were allowed by Salina Central in the first half. Kavanagh was 21-of-37 passing for 263 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Heigele had seven catches for 72 yards and a score.
The Mustangs now head west for the 2019 regular-season finale. Central matches up with Hays. Pregame takes place at 6:45 on Sports Radio 1150 KSAL.