It was a rough start to 2012 for the Lansing football.
After just two conference wins in the last two years (both against Bishop Ward), Tonganoxie started the coach Al Troyer era with a win Friday, upsetting Lansing on their home turf, 22-20.
It was the Lions’ first loss to Tonganoxie since 2006.
The Lions’ pass-heavy offense dazzled with two long TD completions in the first half, but in the second half it was Cole Holloway and the Chieftain defense that stole the show.
Down 13-7 at half, Tonganoxie took momentum early in the third quarter with two Holloway touchdown runs, one on a bruising 5-yard push, the other on a breakaway 49-yard sprint.
The Lions’ five-point advantage became a nine-point deficit in the blink of an eye.
It was all the Tonganoxie offense needed, as the defense forced four turnovers in the second half, three of which came down the stretch with Lansing needing just three or more points to win.
The dagger was a Jordan Boudreaux interception on a 3rd and long desperation pass. It was Boudreaux’s second pick of the game — Tonganoxie 22, Lansing 20.
The remnants of Hurricane Isaac didn’t make the best conditions for debuting Tonganoxie’s new spread offense, so Troyer adjusted.
Holloway running and QB Tyler Ford’s occasional keepers were all the Tonganoxie offense needed.
The 5’4” junior Holloway ran 28 times for 200 yards and 3 TDs. Sidelined with a freak injury last year, Holloway was a freak on the field Friday.
On each of his breakaway touchdowns, it looked like he had his own patch of dry grass gliding along with him. The swamp was for everyone else to deal with.
Whereas Tonganoxie pared their pass playbook down to account for the nastiness, Lansing did no such thing, and paid a high price.
Lions first-time starting QB Jordan Sommerla threw two interceptions and underthrew a few other passes. A wet ball certainly didn’t help.
The Lions didn’t establish a run game. In the first half, the plan worked, as Sommerla hooked up with Lucas Mein and Khalil Bailey for two pass touchdowns.
The TD to Bailey was a go route thrown beautifully by Sommerla for a 49-yard score.
But when the rain picked again in the second half, the lack of a Lion ground attack showed.
Lansing RB Lucas Mein carried 7 times for -5 yards. He was utilized instead as the Lions’ go-to pass threat, hauling in 7 balls for 87 yards and 2 TDs.
Tonganoxie’s offense was one-dimensional too. But on a rainy day like Friday, their run-only offense trumped the Lions’ pass-only plan.