In a match-up that was fascinating on paper, it turned out to be a forgetful night for the Salina Central Mustangs in their 35-6 loss on the road to the Andover Trojans.
Central came in with an impressive resume on offense, but a shaky defense. Andover had had issues putting points on the board but displayed a dominant defense. It was that defense that forced six Mustang turnovers which helped to put the contest out of reach in the second half.
Both sides unofficially ran 59 plays on offense. The Trojans (2-1) gained 328 yards while the Mustangs (0-3) had 316. Yet, the home side coasted to victory thanks in part to several self-inflicted wounds on the part of Central.
The Mustangs took the opening kickoff and began marching downfield. Quarterback Parker Kavanagh found Ezayvar Jackson for a 13-yard gain on third and long to keep the drive alive. But on another third and long play, Kavanagh’s pass was picked off by Isaiah Maikori.
The teams traded punts until the Mustangs got possession late in the first quarter. On a short sideline route, Kavanagh was intercepted again, this time by Quentin Born who raced 40 yards for a pick-six and the PAT gave Andover a 7-0 lead.
With 7:53 left in the second quarter, the Trojans, normally a high-volume rushing team, went to the air as QB Brady Strausz found wide-out Ethan Richardson for a 34-yard touchdown and it was 14-0.
The problems offensively continued for the Mustangs. Kavanagh was intercepted for a third time and he lost a fumble. He did almost lead a scoring drive late in the half. From the Andover 40, Kavanagh hit Hayden Vidricksen who pitched the ball to Logan Losey on a hook and ladder. From there, Losey attempted to lateral the ball to Micah Moore, but the pitch went forward and was flagged for an illegal forward pass. In any event, Moore was tackled at the 7-yard line as time expired in the half.
The Trojans meanwhile, started the second half with a five minute, 68 yard scoring drive that ended with Max Middleton plunging into the endzone from a yard out to give the Trojans a 21-0 lead.
In the fourth, Andover tacked on with a another TD pass from Strausz to Richardson and then the icing on the cake came when Joshua Sparks busted loose for a 91-yard touchdown run. It was 35-0 with 6:34 to play.
Not long after though, Central got on the board when Kenyon McMillan turned on the jets and raced in for a 47-yard score. The PAT failed and the Mustangs trailed 35-6. They recovered an onside kick but were unable to score again. Andover took over the ball, gained a pair of first downs and ran out the clock.
Kavanagh was 22 of 33 for 196 yards and four interceptions. McMillan led the way on the ground with 71 yards on five rushes.
The Mustangs next will have a pair of home games against Valley Center and Arkansas City.