Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka High Fails to Contain Free State Offense in 53-37 Loss

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka High Fails to Contain Free State Offense in 53-37 Loss

Article excerpt

Throughout a dominant regular season, Topeka High has made a habit of using its high-powered offense to overshadow some defensive issues.

With a district championship on the line Friday night against Free State, the offensive explosiveness was again on full display, but this time it couldn't mask Topeka High's struggles on the other side of the ball.

Topeka High had to settle for a runner-up finish in Class 6A district No. 5, after Free State's offense ran wild over the Trojans for a 53-37 victory at Hummer Sports Park.

The Firebirds (6-3, 3-0 district) had three 100-yard rushers -- Khaury El-Amin, Bryce Torneden and Carson Bowen -- and scored on six of their seven possessions in the first half to pull out to a 39-23 lead at halftime.

"We couldn't stop anybody in the first half. We looked like a JV defense, and I told our kids that," Topeka High coach Walt Alexander said. "We were extremely disappointed. You have to credit Free State. They came out and executed exceptionally well.

"Torneden's a great kid and he made some great plays. But we didn't play well at all defensively, and you can't get in a hole like we got in tonight and come back."

Four of Free State's touchdowns in the first half were from more than 50 yards out -- a 73-yard run from El-Amin, a 66-yard run from Torneden, an 87-yard kickoff return by Bowen and a 51-yard touchdown pass to Joel Spain.

High (7-2, 2-1 district) fought back in the second half and cut the lead to 47-37 before Free State pulled away after a 20-yard run from El-Amin with 6:57 left.

Topeka High quarterback Alec Beatty finished with 193 yards passing and 104 yards rushing but was intercepted three times. High receiver Khalil Austin caught seven passes for 126 yards and three touchdowns.

The Trojans were also plagued by four turnovers, including three miscues in the first half.

Alexander said the Topeka offense was forced to take risks because the poor defensive showing put them in an early hole.

"I thought offensively we made some great plays," Alexander said. "We had some great efforts on that side of the ball. But they're a great football team and they've gotten better all year long. …

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