Jack Bell took an interception back 90 yards to squash any comeback Salina Central had on Friday night. It was his third of the night as Andover Central beat Salina Central 27-7.
"That might have been the biggest play of the game," Andover Central head coach Derek Tuttle said.
Bell picked off Salina Central quarterback Parker Kavanagh three times, including twice in the first half.
"The whole year we have been talking bend don’t break that really showed," Bell said. "You really saw that tonight."
It may have been a different game if Bell wasn’t in the right area at what felt the right time. It was Bell’s secondary work and the Jaguar defense that made the entire game difficult for Salina Central. They forced five turnovers and held the Mustangs to only 216 yards as most of those came while they were throwing deep to get back into the game.
It’s believed Bell’s three interceptions tie Matt Macy’s record, which he set against Arkansas City last year. Macy also had an interception returned for a touchdown that was 99 yards.
The Jaguar defense forced five turnovers, including two fumbles. Kavanagh accounted for all five Salina Central turnovers.
Andover Central struck first after a 57-yard pass to Kyle Kohman, Andover Central’s quarterback Chase White pitched it to Jacob Rees for the 2-yard run for the 7-0 lead.
"That pass [57-yard reception] really set the tone for us," Bell said. "We have been taking our times and feeling teams out this season. Tonight, we just went out there and took care of business."
Salina Central fumbled two plays into their first drive and White wasted no time, finding Bell for the 24-yard touchdown pass, giving the Jags a 13-0 lead with 8:40 remaining in the first quarter.
"I think we started to," Tuttle said when asked if they were returning to the earlier version of Andover Central that plays with energy. "Getting up two touchdowns will do that. "
The Jaguars added another touchdown when White picked up a fumble and ran it in for six yards to make it 19-0 at the half.
While Salina Central made a push, going 92 yards in eight plays and scoring midway through the third, it really wasn’t much the Mustangs could do on offense.
The Mustangs made what it felt like as if their last drive into Jaguar territory but it was Bell who stepped up again. He cut under his receiver, took it back to the house down the Salina Central sideline for the nail in the coffin.
What was a 14-point swing if Salina Central had scored. From potentially being up only five to being up 20 showed why the Andover Central defense is a different horse this season.
"We don’t have to have that big name on our defense," Bell said. "We do it as a group, as a team. We are working hard toward our success."
Bell finished with three interceptions and over 140 yards in interception return yardage. He also caught seven passes for 77 yards and a touchdown.
Andover Central’s response to last week’s lost is showing why they are a top five team in Class 4A. There is still work to be done and Tuttle is aware.
"It’s weird to say but sometimes you have to lose to win," Bell said. "We thought we were perfect because we were 3-0 and didn’t have to fix anything. It woke us up."
While the defense fired on all cylinders, it was the offense who had some issues but still had 352 yards of production. They had five turnovers, including three fumbles, but only lost one. They had seven penalties for 75 yards. Two over the turnovers and two big penalties that led to a turnover on downs came in the red zone.
"We have to fix the little things," Tuttle said. "We have to be better in the red zone."
Those little things will have to get fixed quickly as the Jaguars host cross town rival, Andover on Friday night. The Jaguars have beaten the Trojans in the last two meetings, not losing since 2017.
"Four our seniors it’s our last home game," Bell said. "To play Andover, there. It’s what we wanted."
It will also be the first time since 2006 both teams roll into the game with at least four wins each.
"It’s a really special rivalry," Tuttle said. "I’m sure we are going to be at max capacity.
"I’m looking forward to it."
Salina Central – 0;0;7;0 – 7
Andover Central – 13;6;8;0 – 27
1Q (9:22) AC – 2-yard TD pass to Jacob Rees from Chase White (kick is good).
1Q (8:40) AC – 24-yard TD pass to Jack Belle from White (kick is no good).
2Q (1:51) AC – 6-yard TD run by White (2PAT failed).
3Q (6:02) SC – 19-yard TD pass from Parker Kavanagh to Dakota Hogan (kick is good).
3Q (1:32) AC – Bell returned INT for 90-yard TD return (2PAT successful).
Salina CentralAndover Central23-54ATT-RUSH43-185162PASSING167216TOTAL YARDS35212-28-3COMP-ATT-INT16-24-43-2FUMBLES-LOST3-14-20PENALTY-YARDS7-752-83RD-ATTEMPTS5-110-14TH-ATTEMPTS1-317:23TIME OF POSSESSION30:37
RUSHING: Salina Central – Moore 7-22; McMillan 3-8; Jackson 1-12; Kavanagh 12-12. Andover Central – Rees 19-80; Barkdull 17-72; White 5-4; Simms 2-29.
PASSING A-C-YDS-TD-I: Salina Central – Kavanagh 12-28-162-1-3. Andover Central – White 16-24-167-2-4
RECEIVING: Salina Central – Jackson 5-77; Losey 3-25; Hogan 2-54; McMillan 2-6. Andover Central – Bell 7-77; Kohman 2-68; Rees 3-14; Simms 2-11; Stupka 1-(-1); White 1-(-2).