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Morning Sun
  • Turnovers place Dragons in insurmountable hole against B.V. West

  • Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers. Pittsburg fumbled away its first two possessions of the game and Blue Valley West junior quarterback Ryan Ralston (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) made the Purple Dragons pay with touchdown runs of 7 and 9 yards, giving Blue Valley West a 14-0 lead with only 3 minutes, 51 seconds evaporated from the clock.

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  • Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers. Pittsburg fumbled away its first two possessions of the game and Blue Valley West junior quarterback Ryan Ralston (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) made the Purple Dragons pay with touchdown runs of 7 and 9 yards, giving Blue Valley West a 14-0 lead with only 3 minutes, 51 seconds evaporated from the clock.
    Later in the game, Pittsburg forced Blue Valley West into consecutive punts to start the second half and strung together a scoring drive highlighted by a Spencer Bernhardt 34-yard first-down run and a 27-yard touchdown pass from Bernhardt to bruising fullback Anthony McNeely. That score made it a 34-14 Blue Valley West lead, then Conley Wilkins struck with a 89-yard kickoff return for touchdown only 15 seconds after McNeely’s big play.
    Pittsburg had it 41-21 after three quarters but the Jaguars of Blue Valley West tacked on 20 more points for a 61-21 win at Hutchinson Field.
    “Turnovers,” Pittsburg head coach Tom Nickelson said. “We’ve had a few turnovers but that was uncharacteristic. That was as bad as we could possibly start the game. You can’t spot a team like that any points at all, let alone 14 of them in the first 3-and-a-half minutes and then you’re battling back. They’re a very, very solid team. You’ve got to give their coaches and their kids a lot of credit. They just flat took it to us physically and it showed. We’ve got a lot of kids beat up right now because of them.”
    The Jaguars gained 405 rushing yards on 45 carries, averaging 9.0 yards per carry, and only three carries resulted in negative yardage.
    Blue Valley West scored seven of its eight touchdowns via the run — Ralston four TDs (7, 9, 3, 14 yards), Wilkins two TDs (25, 6 yards) and reserve quarterback Zev Mallin one TD (5 yards).
    Wilkins and Ralston both carried the football 19 times — Wilkins for 219 yards and Ralston for 130. Wilkins ran for six first downs in addition to his two TDs and he made the longest run of the night on a 56-yard rumble. After two offensive possessions, Ralston had six carries for 52 yards and two TDs, carrying it on the first six Blue Valley West offensive plays.
    Nickelson said of the Wilkins kickoff return for TD, “That was huge. We had a little momentum and that sucked it all right out of us. I was happy with the kickoff coverage until that one. They were doing very well.”
    Alex Barnes led Pittsburg with 155 yards on 24 carries and Blue Valley West kept Barnes out of the end zone for the first time in 2012. Bernhardt ran for two scores (both 4 yards) and threw for another. Zack Woods led Pittsburg with three catches for 57 yards, including a 30-yard catch on a fake punt throw from Bernhardt.
    “We’ve got good kids,” Nickelson said. “Obviously, they’re hurting and they were upset. But they’re wearing the P and they’re going to try as hard as they can. They give us everything they’ve got and that’s all we can ask for. We’re going two ways and we’re worn out but we’re still trying to battle. We’ve got kids with banged up shoulders, hands and ankles. We didn’t start out playing very good and that’s what caused us to get into that gigantic hole from the beginning.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Pittsburg (5-2, 0-1 Class 5A, District 4) goes on the road against rival Blue Valley (4-3, 1-0) next Friday and Blue Valley West (5-2, 1-0) plays Blue Valley Southwest (4-3, 0-1). Blue Valley defeated Blue Valley Southwest 28-21. Pittsburg ends district with consecutive road games.
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