By Andres Rivas
A pair of 4A giants met at Maxwell Field in Ulysses on Tuesday in the bi-district playoff round. The Ulysses Tigers and the Buhler Crusaders came into the matchup with identical records of eight wins and only one loss, but this game would wind up having the greatest implications as the winner would move on and the loser would stay home to watch. It was the Tigers who would wind up falling by a score of 14-7.
"It was a great high school football game," head coach Jason Kenny said after the game, and it truly was.
This was a game that was going to be won in the trenches by the running game as was evidenced by the fact that neither quarterback threw more than two passes, while only completing one apiece, and both teams were over the 200-yard rushing mark. And that rushing onslaught was highlighted by the play of one of Southwestern Kansas' top players in sophomore running back Ian Rudzik.
Rudzik would give Ulysses the early lead of the game when he pounded the ball in from 1 yard out with 4:15 left in the 2nd quarter.
Rudzik was the work horse for the Tigers in the game, as he carried the ball 44 times for a 221 yards and the one touchdown. With the Tigers putting up 304 yards of total offense, the young Rudzik would account for over 70 percent of his team's offensive outing. Kenny was happy with the way Rudzik played saying, "Great players play good in big games, and he did that".
After the Tigers took the lead late in the first half, Buhler was quick to answer with a score of its own when an offensive drive that took just under two minutes was capped off by an 18-yard touchdown run by Riley Allen.
Kenny knew what he was up against in the Crusaders as he said the gameplan was to "run the football, keep it out of Buhler's hands" because "Buhler is so explosive." The Crusaders didn't seem to be very explosive as it was a low scoring game, but they were when it counted.
The Crusaders would take the lead for good when a drive in the third quarter was finished with some flair as Allen again took one to the house for the Crusaders, this time from 62 yards out.
Asked after the loss how his team was taking the disappointment of being knocked out in the first round, Kenny said, "Its always tough and they're a great bunch of kids and they took it hard."
Even though the loss may sting for a while, the team did enjoy a very successful season. They were GWAC and district 14 champs, and after droppping their first game to the 5A Liberal Redskins, they would rattle off eight straight wins.
"We did a lot of good things this year," Kenny said.
Buhler will move on in the 4A playoffs as they will travel to Abilene on Saturday for the regional championship.
Ulysses 0 7 0 0 -- 7
Buhler 0 7 7 0 -- 14
ULY--Ian Rudzik 1 yd run (Mendez kick), 4:15
BUH--Riley Allen 18 yd run (Wolf kick), 2:28
BUH--Allen 62 yd run (Wolf kick), 7:45
First Downs 18 9
Yards Rushing 266 238
Yards Passing 38 17
Passes (Com/Att/Int) 1-2-0 1-2-0
Penalties 3-25 0-0
Fumbles Lost 1 1