TMP's season ends with loss
By AUSTIN COLBERT
HOISINGTON -- If Thursday night's football game between Thomas More Prep-Marian and Hoisington were to be turned into a horror movie, Cardinal junior running back Nolan McCurry would play the man in the mask wielding the machete.
"When we look back on this, three plays are going to haunt us," TMP coach John Montgomery said. "Three plays are going to stand in the back of our mind."
The three plays were three long touchdown runs by McCurry, who ran for 296 yards on 32 carries to lead Hoisington past TMP 26-17 at Elton Brown Field.
The win sends Hoisington (4-4) into the Class 3A state playoffs next week, while the loss ends TMP's season at 2-7 and keeps the Monarchs out of the playoffs, a place they haven't been since 2002.
TMP has made a reputation -- albeit a bad one -- out of giving up the big play over the past couple of years. While the team showed tremendous progress this year in that category, the big play created a nightmare scenario for the Monarchs on Thursday.
The first of these plays came on the first play of Hoisington's second drive. A simple hand off up the middle to McCurry ended 59 yards later with a Cardinal touchdown to make it 6-0 after a botched snap on the extra-point attempt.
TMP got nothing going offensively and needed some help from its special teams to get on the scoreboard in the first half. Junior Cameron Fouts blocked a Hoisington punt, giving the Monarchs possession at the Cardinals' 18-yard line.
TMP had to settle for a 28-yard Jack You field goal that made it 6-3 late in the first quarter.
The Monarchs were on track to stay within one possession at the half, when McCurry struck again. Another simple hand off up the middle resulted in a 67-yard touchdown run with less than three minutes remaining in the quarter.
Hoisington led 12-3 at halftime.
"Our fullback did a great job of isolating their linebacker, and then Nolan just does a tremendous job of seeing the hole and making the cut and then taking off," Hoisington coach Jason Ingram said. "He has the eye back there and when he runs hard he is very hard to stop."
Hoisington opened the second half with an impressive 10-play drive that started from its own 28-yard line and took nearly half the quarter. It ended with a modest 15-yard McCurry touchdown run to extend the Cardinals' lead to 19-3.
But just when it seemed like TMP was done for, the Monarchs found courage to fight back. They answered with a 12 play, 76-yard drive, which ended when junior quarterback Max Megaffin connected with senior Ryan Mayorga on an 8-yard TD pass on fourth-and-7. Megaffin then found Fouts for the 2-point conversion to get within one possession at 19-11 late in the third quarter.
"So many times this year, whether it was the first half or the second half, the opening drive we've had an opponent come down and stick one in and score on us," Montgomery said. "And we've been able to answer, we've been able to bounce back and battle back. That's just a testament to the commitment and the drive each of these young men have."
The problem wasn't TMP's resolve to keep playing, but its inability to stop McCurry. It took Hoisington two plays to answer TMP's score, the bulk of the yardage coming on McCurry's fourth and final TD run, this time from 61 yards.
Hoisington led 26-11 with 1:56 remaining in the third quarter.
As much trouble as TMP has stopping the run, it also had trouble getting its own run game going. The Monarchs rushed for 114 yards on 31 carries, led by the 54 yards of junior running back Nick Schmidt.
TMP's inability to control the line crippled its ability to generate any offense.
"They've got a tremendous group on the front, and that created some difficulty," Montgomery said. "When you are having those challenges at the point of attack it makes it difficult to move the football. So much of what we do is predicated on what we are able to do on the ground."
With the run game ineffective, TMP went heavily to the air and finally found success late in the fourth quarter. A 38-yard pass from Megaffin to senior wide receiver Taylor Wasinger was followed by a 31-yard pass from Megaffin to Mayorga down to the Cardinals' 2-yard line. Megaffin found Fouts for a touchdown on the next play.
But time would run out on TMP. A failed 2-point conversion and failed onside kick recovery resulted in Hoisington being able to run out the clock and preserve the nine-point win.
"That pass right here to Mayorga, that got us a little worried," Ingram said.
"And you just never know on an onside kick what is going to happen. You prepare for it the best you can and thank goodness it went out of bounds and we were able to finish it off."