Mohawk rolls by Lakota

PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO Mohawk's Jesse Leeth gains yardage as Lakota's David Frye defends Friday in Kansas.

KANSAS — Mohawk could not have scripted a better opening quarter Friday against Lakota.

The Warriors scored on their first two drives and never looked back, topping Lakota 34-8 in the teams’ opening game of the season.

“I think we did things well offensively,” Mohawk coach Brent Konkle said. “It shows that our offensive line has been together for three years now. I think we delivered the ball well when throwing and we got up the gut and got some good running plays. We established the line of scrimmage early.”

After the Raiders punted, Bryce Kirian busted off a 36-yard run into Lakota territory. The Raiders quickly settled and forced Mohawk into a fourth-and-3 situation, but Keith Jenkins found Zach Hayman for 6 yards. One play later, Jesse Leeth rumbled in from 8 yards out for the touchdown. The extra point was blocked, but Mohawk led 6-0.

Lakota picked up a first down on its next possession on the legs of junior running back Trevor Franks, but esd forced to punt. It took the Warriors just five plays to cover 66 yards, the last 35 on a touchdown pass from Jenkins to Hayman. Jenkins then ran in the two-point conversion with 1:54 left in the first quarter.

“They did what we wanted to do,” Lakota coach Mike Lento said. “We wanted to score on our first drive, but it did not happen. They came out and scored on those first two possessions. There are things we have to work on.”

Lakota advanced into Mohawk territory for the first time just before the first quarter ended. The Raiders had a first down at the Mohawk 20, but an incomplete pass, a holding penalty and a sack all but deflated the drive and Lakota turned the ball over on downs.

Connor Powell intercepted Jenkins on the next Warriors offensive possession, putting the Raiders quickly back at the Mohawk 16-yard line. After a few short rushes, Lakota freshman quarterback Josh Matz completed his first pass — a 10-yard pickup to Carter Reinhart. One play later, Matz pushed in from a yard out for a touchdown. Franks ran in the two-point conversion and the Raiders were within 14-8.

“Our biggest point was to score in the red zone,” Lento said. “We got in there and drove the ball. We have not done the quarterback sneak, so we told Josh to get in the end zone and score and he did just that.”

But as all good teams do, Mohawk did not wait long to respond. Runs of 12 and 9 yards by Leeth got the Warriors into Lakota territory. The drive belonged to Leeth, as he gained the final 25 yards of the drive over three carries. His last, a 14-yard sprint up the middle, gave Mohawk a 21-8 lead after Kedryk Leeth’s extra point.

Mohawk opened the third quarter half on a roll, picking up chunks of yardage before Hayman took a jet sweep over the left side 44 yards for a score and a 27-8 lead.

“Lakota is big and that is not our strength,” Konkle said. “We are not huge up front, but we are quick. We have to learn to bend, but not break at times. Lakota did not drive the field much on us. We are pretty happy defensively.”

Lakota slowed the pace down, using a heavy diet of Franks to move the offense down the field. The Raiders picked up four first downs and ran 15 plays over 8:38 of game, but came up short at the Mohawk 9-yard line, ending the long drive with zero points.

“If we score when we get in the red zone, it is a whole different ballgame,” Lento said. “That is what we are trying to teach the kids to do. We have to capitalize when we can capitalize.”

Mohawk added a 4-yard touchdown pass from Jenkins to Hayman after the Warriors blocked a punt.

“I thought offensively we had it clicking tonight,” Konkle said. “Lakota has a young secondary. I have been there and done that. They are trying not to give up the big play, but we had some nice passes and some nice runs.”

Lakota also held possession for the final 6:57 of the game. The Raiders this time ran 13 plays, but only got to the Mohawk 30-yard line when the game ended.

“We want to get to Mohawk’s level,” Lento said. “We are still teaching guys drills, while Mohawk is setting up to rock and roll every drill they do. They are a well-coached team and they played hard.”

Franks finished with 37 carries for 145 yards.

“It does not matter who the quarterback is,” Lento said. “We are going to give the ball to our workhorse. We are going to give him the ball 30 to 40 times a game. We need the offensive line to respond and get hungry and block for a back like that.”

Leeth ran 10 times for 75 yards while Hayman had six catches for 75 yards. Kirian added 57 yards on the ground for the Warriors.

Konkle was not surprised at all with the amount of carries that Franks got.

“If I had Franks, I would use him a lot too,” Konkle said while smiling.