Ben Driver and Greg Gibson were just happy to be back on the field.

That they helped Salina Central's defense deliver the Mayor's Cup made it all the more special.

"I was out with a broken jaw my junior year, so this was huge for me," Driver, a senior linebacker, said after the Mustangs forced three South turnovers and limited the Cougars to a second-half field goal Friday night in a 27-3 victory at Salina Stadium. "It was great to be out there again.

"Our goal was to come out with the Mayor's Cup."

 

The victory ended a seven-game South winning streak in the series.

Gibson, a senior defensive end, missed last season as well while undergoing cancer treatment on his leg.

"I finally get to be out there and play with my brothers," Gibson said.

The Mustang defense held South in check all night, forcing three turnovers and limiting the Cougars to 212 yards total offense — just 56 on the ground.

"Defense is our strong points, and our offense is good, too," said Driver, who had one of two Central interceptions and also caught a 22-yard touchdown pass on offense. "We got stops so the offense could put up points.

"We just came downhill hard, got tackles and made them throw the ball. Two picks were huge for us because it got everybody going."

The first interception, by senior linebacker Michael Russell, snuffed out a red-zone drive by South with less than a minute left in the first half to preserve a 7-0 Central lead.

 

"I just dropped back and saw it come at me and threw my hands up," Russell said. "It was like a dream.

"Our coaching on defense was tremendous. Our players did a great job, but it was all coaching."

For Russell, the final outcome was the biggest thing.

"Being seven years since we got it, me personally and the seniors on the really wanted this," he said of the Mayor's Cup. "It means to the world to us."

Driver's interception came after his touchdown catch in the fourth quarter with the game already in hand. Asked which was bigger, his touchdown or interception, Driver didn't hesitate.

"I've got to say the touchdown," he said with a smile. "Being a defense-mainly guy, to get a touchdown was amazing."

Gibson, who left with a minor injury in the third quarter, also was all smiles.

"This was the biggest game of my life," he said. "The most fun game of my life.

"It hasn't really set in yet. Maybe tomorrow morning when I wake up, it will all set in."