WiLdKats' rush attack key in win over Blackhawks
WHITE LAKE -- When he had to, Corbin Heath turned up the speed.
Heath, rushing for a game-high 132 yards on 13 carries, led the WiLdKats past Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central 24-14 on a muggy, hot evening on the opening night of high school football season.
"Heath has got some natural ability and we noticed that last year when he was a freshman," Kimball/White Lake coach Dale Taylor said. "He's a slasher-type runner. He sees the hole and hits it hard. Now we just have to get him to lower his shoulder and run some people over."
Heath's sideline-sprinting, first-quarter touchdown run from 25 yards out put the WiLdKats on top by 8. The score came after the Blackhawks fumbled on an option right, and KWL's Turner Blasius recorded the first of his two fumble recoveries in the game.
The Blackhawks responded right away after Landon Ochsner returned the kickoff 47 yards and running back Austin Messmer scored on second-and-goal from the 3-yard line to tie the game at 8. It stayed that way until the break.
On the WiLdKats' second possession of the third quarter, Heath dodged a few tackles and sprinted down the right sideline for a 30-yard score. Besides his two touchdowns, he also had a 37-yard run in the fourth quarter.
"For 75 percent of our defensive snaps, we did a pretty solid job," Blackhawks coach Jason Kolousek said. "We just gave up a few plays, a few long runs and they cost us."
It was clear for most of the game Taylor was getting frustrated with KWL's inability to pick up chunks of yardage on the ground. During the third quarter, Eathen Gaulke busted through the middle for an 11-yard gain, showing promise for an offensive line that returned two players from last year's squad. After the play was over, Taylor was somewhat relieved and shouted out to his offense, "That's how we run the football."
Seven plays after Gaulke's bulldozing run, KWL's Riley Talbott ran a quarterback keeper to the left for a 6-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The score on third-and-goal gave the WiLdKats a 24-8 lead.
Messmer, who recorded a team-high 93 yards on the ground, scored with 6:14 left in the ballgame, capping a nine-play, 72-yard drive. After the Blackhawks couldn't punch in the two-point conversion and failed to recover an onside kick, the WiLdKats sealed the victory.
KWL, which averaged 4.5 yards per rush, totalled 251 yards of offense, all coming on the ground. Blasius had 52 yards, Gaulke had 43 yards and Talbott added 24. Blasius led the team with 17 tackles and Gaulke and Talbott each had an interception.
The Blackhawks, totalling 215 yards of offense, ran a two-quarterback approach in their opening game of the year. Junior Joe Davis was 4-of-8 passing for 13 yards and sophomore Tucker Kingsbury was 1-for-3 passing for 1 yard, but added 76 yards rushing on 14 carries.
"We need to clean some things up, but I was fairly pleased with how they played," Kolousek said. "Neither of them had ever taken a varsity snap at quarterback. They made some mistakes that they can learn on, but they also did a lot of good things they can build on."
KWL (1-0) plays its first road game of the year next week, traveling to play Platte-Geddes/Dakota Christian, a first-year nine-man team, Friday night in Platte. The Blackhawks (0-1) host Mount Vernon/Plankinton Friday in Wessington Springs.
KWL: Corbin Heath 25 run (Riley Talbott run)
WWSSC: Austin Messmer 3 run (Tucker Kingsbury run)
KWL: Heath 30 run (Eathen Gaulke run)
KWL: Talbott 6 run (Talbott run)
WWSSC: Messmer 3 run (Run failed)