By: Jenn Bates
KWCH 12 Eyewitness Sports
10:07 PM CDT, September 7, 2012
With three touchdowns on four catches for 159 yards at the half, Collegiate's Markus Phox was dominating the game. But then Buhler figured him out. In the second half Steve Warner's team found a way to shut down the stand-out wide receiver and rattle the Spartan's offense en route to a second half shut-out and 28-21 win on Collegiate's home-field.
The Spartans came out firing on both sides of the ball, scoring on their first drive with a 52-yard touchdown reception by Phox. The Spartans defense kept Crusaders running back Riley Allen corralled and forced Buhler to punt. Once again, Landon Root found Markus Phox who did a whole lot of work turning yards after the catch into yet another 50+ yard touchdown to give Collegiate a 14-0 lead.
Not everything was rosy for the Spartans, however, as Root continued to make some youthful mistakes. A fumble near the end of the first quarter gave Buhler excellent field position, but Seth Carter stepped in front of Luke Berblinger's pass to prevent the Crusaders from getting on the board.
Collegiate couldn't keep them at bay for too long thought. Buhler found a rhythm in the second half and finally scored when Berblinger found Brandon Keeler for about a 15-yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Collegiate.
With less than a minute to play in the half and Collegiate facing a fourth down, Root once again connected with Phox for a 40+ yard touchdown. That put Collegiate up 21-7. Buhler tried to move down the field through the air but an interception by Forest Short gave the Spartans the ball back with 15 seconds left to play in the half. The Spartans were unable to score again before the break.
Buhler came out strong in the second half, scoring on their first drive. Riley allen capped off the drive with about a 13 yard touchdown run to get the Crusaders within 7.
It was clear very early on in that third quarter that whatever defensive changes Buhler had made were working, and working well. Landon Root seemed a little rattled and unsure of the plays as he threw an incomplete pass to force a punt.
A great return by Buhler set up another Crusader score. Allen took it all the way down to the one yard line then punched it in on the next play to tie the game at 21 with just under 5 minutes to play in the third.
That's when things really started to go downhill for the Spartans. On third down, Root looked down at his play card and started to yell at the wide receiver lined up to his left. However, the second he yelled at his receiver, the center snapped the ball and it sailed past Root. Buhler would recover the bad snap and found themselves in perfect position to take the lead.
In fact, it took them just two plays after that fumble to score again. Berblinger took the ball in himself to make it 28-21 Crusaders. After being down 21-7 at the half, Buhler needed just a touch over 9 minutes to score 21 unanswered points.
There was still an entire quarter though for Collegiate to make a comeback, but the team seemed deflated and continued to make mistakes. In the fourth quarter they were finally putting together a good drive until a hard hit forced an Isaiah Franklin fumble that was recovered by Buhler.
Coach Steve Warner said that the second half was by far the best football his team has played this season. He credited his defensive coordinator for making the necessary adjustments to shut down Markus Phox and thus shut down Collegiate's offense.
Buhler is now 2-0 and will host Mulvane next Friday while Collegiate falls to 1-1 and will face Circle next week.
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