By BRETT MARSHALL
The Ulysses Tigers, who have used big passing plays all season, had to find other big plays on Saturday night in their Class 4A regional championship game at Hesston due to a 30 mph southerly wind that virtually grounded their aerial attack.
Coach Jason Kenny got those "other" big plays in the form of a 52-yard touchdown run by Josh Jarnagin, a 56-yard score by Tate Annis and a 52-yard fumble recovery returned by Chase Rudzik to power the Tigers to a hard-fough 26-19 victory over the Swathers.
The victory moves the Tigers into the 4A quarterfinals at 7 p.m. on Friday when they host Rose Hill (10-1) at Maxwell Field.
"It wasn't pretty, but when you're in the playoffs, it doesn't really matter how you do it, as long as you do," Kenny said. "We had to adjust what we were doing on offense because we couldn't throw our normal pass patterns."
As a result, the Tigers ran the ball 45 times for 281 yards with Jarnagin, who was nursing a sore ankle, getting 154 of those on 15 carries. Razzy Morales added 43 yards on 10 attempts while Annis finished with 56 yards and Armando Sandoval with 10.
Quarterback Braden Langston was just 1-of-6 passing for 16 yards with one interception.
Annis got his one long touchdown run to open the game's scoring in the first quarter, but a botched extra point resulted in a run being stopped for two points. Hesston answered in the first quarter with a Kyle Perry 4-yard run but missed the extra point.
Jarnagin got his 52-yard score in the second quarter and the two-point conversion pass failed. Hesston cut the gap when Eyan Roth booted a 22-yard field goal, making it 12-9.
The Tigers extended their lead to 18-9 when Jarnagin raced in from seven yards out, but again, the two-point conversion run was no good.
Ulysses used Rudzik's fumble recovery return and a two-point conversion run by Jarnagin to move out to a 26-9 lead at the end of three quarters and seemingly had the game in hand.
But Hesston responded with 10 fourth-quarter points, getting a 30-yard scoring pass from Tim Raleigh to Mark Jensen.
"Our defense did some nice things, especially when we held them to two field goals when they drove deep on us," Kenny said. "Hesston's a good team. It was really a battle; one that was just who could hang on. Fortunately, it was us."
This will be the second year in a row the Tigers have reached the third round of the playoffs. Last year, they had to travel more than 300 miles to face Holton and came home with a 42-20 loss. A win against Rose Hill puts the Tigers into the state semifinals on Nov. 18 against the winner of the Buhler-Topeka Hayden game.
Ulysses 6 12 8 0 -- 26
Hesston 6 3 0 10 -- 19
U--Tate Annis 56 run (run failed)
H--Kyle Perry 4 run (kick failed)
U--Josh Jarnagin 52 run (pass failed)
H--Eyan Roth 22 field goal
U--Jarnagin 7 run (run failed)
U--Chase Rudzik 52 fumble recover return (Jarnagin run)
H--Mark Jensen 30 pass from Tim Raleigh (Roth kick)
H--Roth 43 field goal
Team and Individual Statistics
Ulysses--First downs 15; Rushes-yards 45-281; Passes (Com-Att-Int-Yards) 1-7-1--16. Fumbles-lost 3-3.
Rushing--Jarnagin 15-154, Morales 10-43, Annis 1-56, Sandoval 10-10.
Receiving--Garrett Kissell 1-16.