FLUSH — The effects of the Shane Sieben hire for Rock Creek continue to show. After losing every game on their schedule last season, Rock Creek is beginning to turn things around. It’s already showed in the multiple games this season — pushing Class 2A state runner-up Riley County in the opener, giving undefeated Halstead its toughest test of the season to this point and hanging tough with a one-loss Hesston squad last week — and it showed again on Friday night, as Rock Creek rolled to a 54-14 home win over Clay Center.
The 54 points put up by the Mustangs (3-4) Friday marks the first time Rock Creek hit half a hundred points in a game since 2014. For the 11 Rock Creek players celebrating senior night Friday, success like that had been hard to come by.
Sieben thinks the reason for this season’s success is because of them.
“Our seniors needed to know the way, show the way and go the way, and they’ve done it,” Sieben said. “They’ve bought in from Day 1 and have just done a fantastic job leading the way, and we’ve got a lot of pieces that will follow along.”
Of course the 154 passing yards, 122 rushing yards and five touchdowns recorded by junior quarterback Charlie Killingsworth helped make Friday go smoothly, too.
“Charlie Kilingsworth has been unbelievable at quarterback,” Sieben said. “(The offensive line) gave him time and then he made throw after throw. ... Just a total team effort tonight.”
Clay Center’s potent rushing attack was effective picking up yardage in the first quarter, but lost fumbles on the first two drives by the Tigers were a sign of things to come. The two fumbles led to two early touchdowns for Rock Creek, the latter coming on a 44-yard bomb from Killingsworth to junior wide receiver Brooks Whaley. It wouldn’t be the last time the duo would hook up in the game.
Clay Center (3-4) got as close as they would for the remainder of the contest in the second quarter, scoring on a five-play drive midway through. Any momentum that the Tigers had was taken away on the ensuing kickoff, though, as senior Dylan Plummer took the kick 80-yards to the house and put Rock Creek up by two scores again.
A 7-yard touchdown pass from Killingsworth to Whaley, as well as a 15-yard quarterback scamper into the end zone, put Rock Creek up 33-8. With the defense bending but not breaking against the flex bone offense of Clay Center, things were looking good for the Mustangs going into halftime.
“Coming in, our guys had some confidence, just going up against offenses like that,” Sieben said. “They were very focused and disciplined tonight and executed in a four-quarter ballgame.”
The dominating performance by Rock Creek didn’t stop at halftime, opening up the third quarter with two straight touchdowns after a mishandling of the kickoff by Clay Center, essentially sealing the victory with the score 47-8 with 9:18 to go in the third quarter.
Rock Creek finished the night with 430 yards of total offense, with 264 of those yards coming on the ground. Clay Center ended with 378 total yards, but the five turnovers it committed were too much to overcome.
Especially with how well the Mustangs played.
“We knew this was a huge game,” Sieben said. “We talked all week about how this was a must-win game for us, and our guys came out and had a hunger and a fire in their eyes all week. ... They’re turning this thing around.”
One more victory for Rock Creek would give the Mustangs their best record since 2012, where they finished the season 5-4. On paper, Rock Creek has a prime opportunity to do just that, as it travels to Lindsborg next week to take on a Smokey Valley team that is 1-6 after losing to Halstead 49-0 Friday.
Rock Creek 54,
Clay Center 14
Clay Center 0 8 6 0 — 14
Rock Creek 14 19 21 0 — 54
RC — Killingsworth 7 run (PAT failed), 7:31
RC — Whaley 45 pass from Killingsworth (2-pt good), 5:18
CC — Glavan 4 run (2-pt good)
RC — Plummer 80 kickoff return (2-pt failed)
RC — Whaley 6 pass from Killingsworth (2-pt failed), 2:05
RC — Killingsworth 15 run (PAT good)
RC — Killingsworth 7 run (PAT good), 9:22
RC — Forge 2 run (PAT good), 9:18
CC — Mullin 3 run (2-pt failed), 6:52
RC — Golden 5 run (PAT good)
RUSHING — Rock Creek: Killingsworth 11-121, Forge 8-86, Golden 6-50, Ibarra 7-8, Whitworth 2-1 // Clay Center: Mullin 24-189, Glavan 11-57, Nelsen 7-44, Humphrey 5-15, Gregory 3-11
PASSING — Rock Creek: Killingsworth 10-15-0 154, Whitworth 1-1-0 12 // Clay Center: Glavan 4-10-1 62
RECEIVING — Rock Creek: Whaley 4-71, Zenger 3-43, Golden 3-40, Sturdy 1-12 // Clay Center: Musselman 1-26, Ferguson 1-14, Nelsen 1-8