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Thunder Ridge Outlasts Victoria in Shootout

KRSL 95.9 GOW Football
KRSL 95.9 GOW Football

VICTORIA-Dylan Bice rushed for 164 yards and four touchdowns and passed for another score as Thunder Ridge outpaced Victoria 62-46 in the 8-Man Division ll Sectional Friday evening.

The Longhorns opened the scoring on the game's second play as Mason Baker ripped off a 55-yard touchdown run for an 8-0 lead after two-point conversion.  Victoria answered back with an 11-play, 43-yard drive capped off by a one-yard run by Carson Werth and their two-point play was successful in knotting the score  8-8.

That would be the last time Victoria which never led in Friday's game would be tied with Thunder Ridge as the two high-powered offenses spent most of the rest of the game trading touchdowns.  Thunder Ridge struck back on its next drive moving 57 yards in five plays with Bice scoring on a five-yard run and the lead grew to 16-8 with the successful conversion.  Werth rumbled 35 yards for a touchdowns on Victoria's ensuing possession and cut the Knights deficit to 16-14 at the end if the first 12 minutes but remained two points behind when the two-point try failed.

The Longhorns scored again when Dalton Bice scored from 10-yards out to swell their advantage to 24-14 after another successful two-point conversion.  Victoria found the end zone again less than two minutes later when Thaddeus Wohler scored on a nine-yard run but another failed conversion left Thunder Ridge with a 24-20 lead.  The Longhorns then tallied another score when Dylan Bice scored on another five-yard run but their conversion failed this time making the score 30-20 in favor of the visitors from Kensington.

Werth's third touchdown of the first half from 30 yards out pulled the Knights closer once more at 30-26 but the conversion was once again not successful.  Thunder Ridge, knowing Victoria would receive the second half kickoff then scored a key touchdown just before halftime on a fourth down play when Dylan Bice connected with Dalton Bice who caught the ball in the corner of the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown pass and with the two-point conversion successful, the Longhorns had a 38-26 lead at intermission.

The scoring barrage picked up again on Victoria's first drive of the second half when Wohler took in a touchdown from 10 yards out making the score 38-32 with an unsuccessful conversion.  Thunder Ridge then scored again less than two minutes later when Dalton Bice took the ball over the goal line from two yards out and the two-point try was good to up the Longhorn lead to 46-32.  Wohler then capped off a four-play 40-yard drive for Victoria with his third touchdown of the game on a one-yard run and when Werth ran in the conversion, Victoria had cut their deficit to 46-40 after three quarters.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Thunder Ridge hit paydirt again with Dylan Bice scoring from one yard out and their lead grew again to 54-40 after the two-point conversion was good.  Victoria then caught a break on their next possession deep in Longhorn territory.  Chase Schumacher fumbled at the Thunder Ridge five-yard line trying to gain extra yards but his teammate Jarron Schmidt alertly picked up the ball and raced into the end zone but the conversion failed and Victoria was still down 54-46 with 10:48 left in the fourth quarter.

Thunder Ridge then put together an 11-play, 57-yard drive that drained more than seven minutes off the clock with Dylan Bice scoring on another one-yard touchdown run with 3:29 remaining and the two-point try provided the final margin of 62-46.  Victoria had one last chance but was stopped at the one-yard line on fourth and goal and Thunder Ridge punched its ticket to a second consecutive Sub-State championship game.  Thunder Ridge (10-1) which lost 46-0 to eventual state champion Axtell in a Sub-State Final last year will host Dighton next Friday, November 18.  The Hornets trounced Wallace County in their sectional 38-0 Friday night in Sharon Springs.

Thunder Ridge was able to win despite committing 10 penalties totaling 109 yards with several of them for unsportsmanlike conduct which resulted in the ejection of one of their key starters on the offensive line.  The Longhorns racked up 430-yards of total offense while amassing 18 first downs.

Victoria (10-1) was led by Werth and Wohler who each rushed for more than 100 yards (104 for Werth, 102 for Wohler) and three touchdowns apiece.  After being held to 73 rushing yards in the first half, the Knights tallied 172 yards on the ground after halftime and finished with 369 yards of total offense and 14 first downs.  Wohler was also 7 of 10 passing for 124 yards.

The 62 points were the most given up by Victoria since an 88-66 loss to Leoti-Wichita County in the first round of the 8-Man Division l Playoffs on October 31, 2019.  

Friday's game marked the last in a Victoria uniform for six seniors: Taylor Anderson, Wohler, Werth, Schmidt, Vance Hockersmith and Lane Schmidtberger.