Rock Creek football vs. Riley County 2018

In this file photo, the Rock Creek offense lines up for a play as the sun sets during their season-opening game at home against Riley County in 2018. Rock Creek beat Bishop Ward 34-17 in the opening round of the Class 3A football playoffs Friday.

A strong second-half performance made the difference for Rock Creek football as the Mustangs beat Bishop Ward 34-17 in the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs.

The Cyclones scored first after a 25-yard field goal but Rock Creek responded, taking its first lead of the game on a 39-yard pass from Dalton Whitworth to Daegen Vinduska.

Bishop Ward retook the lead, 10-7, at the end of the first quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run.

Vinduska found the end zone again on a 70-yard punt return in the second quarter, giving the Mustangs a 14-10 lead at the half.

Whitworth found Vinduska for a third time on a 35-yard pass to start the third quarter, pushing Rock Creek’s lead to 21-10.

Bishop Ward (4-5) got back to within four later in the quarter on a 9-yard touchdown run, but after that, it was all Mustangs (6-3).

Whitworth connected for his third touchdown of the night to start the fourth quarter, this time finding Ehtan Burgess from three yards out, pushing the lead to 28-17.

Jaydon Winans capped the Rock Creek victory on a 30-yard touchdown run in the final period.

Whitworth went 17-for-31 for 199 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

Vinduska caught two passes, both touchdowns, for 74 yards, Yanci Spiller caught six passes for 34 yards, Burgess caught for 34 yards and Winans caught one for 33.

Winans rushed 13 times for 89 yards.

Maddox Ibarra led the team defensively with 14 tackles (10 solo). Winans had Rock Creek’s lone sack, Vinduska had a pick and Gavin Meyer and Payton McCarn each recovered fumbles.

The Mustangs now will travel to District 3 champion Hayden (8-1) this week the regional round of the 3A playoffs.

Valley Heights tops Pleasanton

A 273-yard, four-touchdown performance from Valley Heights running back Trenton L’Ecuyer led the Mustangs to a 29-14 win at Pleasanton in the opening round of the 1A football playoffs.

L’Ecuyer ripped off touchdown runs of 68 and 79 yards in the first quarter and a modest 5-yard run in the second quarter to give Valley Heights (4-4) a 22-8 lead at the half.

Pleasanton (2-6) scored the lone touchdown of the third quarter to get within eight, but an 11-yard L’Ecuyer score in the fourth quarter wrapped up the win for the Mustangs.

Caden Parker pitched in, running the ball 12 times for 74 yards. Defensively, Kaden Bigham had 13 tackles (six solo) and a sack to lead the way for Valley Heights.

Up next, the Mustangs will face a Centralia (7-2) team in the regional round that beat them 41-16 on Sept. 24.

Riley County survives Russell

Last week, Riley County had to deal with a major loss when it found out starting senior quarterback and safety Trey Harmison would miss the rest of the season because of a Lisfranc fracture on one of his feet.

Harmison has been the engine that has made the Falcon offense go during the team’s undefeated regular season, and without him, the Falcons turned to another senior — running back Blake Brokenicky — and their defense to grind out a 18-15 win over Russell in the opening round of the 3A playoffs on Friday.

Brokenicky scored all three of the Falcon touchdowns, starting with a 4-yard run in the first quarter followed by a 26-yard run in the second quarter, which put Riley County (9-0) ahead 12-0 at the half.

Russell (4-5) took a lead the second half on the strength of 77-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter and a 14-yard run at the top of the fourth quarter. The Broncos successfully pulled off a two-point conversion after the second touchdown to jump ahead by three.

Brokenicky found the end zone one final time, scoring on a 1-yard run, to move back ahead by three.

Brokenicky had 195 yards on 30 carries.

The Falcons threw just two passes in the game, one of which was picked off.

Riley County grabbed four interceptions in the game, including two from Korin Koenig and one each from Sam Allen and Lukas Kulp.

Zak Zeller and Samson Waggoner each had nine tackles in the game (four solo) to lead the Falcons’ defense.

In the regional round of the 3A playoffs, the Falcons face a rematch with district foe Concordia (7-2), a team Riley County beat 48-7 on Oct. 15.