JUNCTION CITY — The Hays High football team opened the Tony Crough era with a 56-31 loss on Friday at Junction City. 

The Indians were within striking distance at halftime, trailing 21-17, but the Bluejays pulled away in the second half. 

Hays struck first on a 4-yard TD run by quarterback Palmer Hutchison but Junction City answered with a 2-yard plunge from Christopher Randolph and then went ahead on a 26-yard touchdown catch from Ethan Alcorn. The Indians cut the lead to 14-10 on a 36-yard field goal from Cole Schroeder early in the second quarter. 

Hays had a chance to take the lead but suffered a costly turnover near the Junction City goal line. The Blue Jays then engineered a touchdown drive capped off a 1-yard run from Randolph to push the lead to 21-10. Hays then scored right before half on a 20-yard run from Hutchison.

Back-to-back rushing touchdowns from Russell Wilkey and quarterback Rooster Adams had rushing touchdowns to extend the Junction City lead to 35-18. Hayden Brown then had the highlight of the second half for the Indians with a 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. 

Junction responded with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Hamilton but Hays High answered back with Hutchison's 10-yard touchdown pass to Willie Sennett. 

The Blue Jays sealed it with touchdown receptions from Alcorn and Hamilton in the fourth quarter. 

Hutchison led the way for the Indians, throwing for 201 yards with a TD and rushing for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Sennett had 10 catches for 98 yards.

Hays had trouble containing Junction City standout Wilkey, who rushed for 218 yards. 

The Indians will be on the road again next Friday, facing Great Bend.