AUGUSTA – The wheel that is Augusta’s offense was missing a key spoke in Friday night’s Class 4A playoff opener against Ulysses.
Senior running back Ryan Andrews was in a boot on the sidelines, but the hub of the offense, senior quarterback Jett Hand, amassed 274 yards of total offense, scored three touchdowns and passed for two more in helping the Orioles breeze to a 50-8 victory at Hillier Stadium.
"He ‘seniored’ up," coach Jason Filbeck said. "(And) the O-Line had a great night for us. They really did."
"Honestly, it was on the linemen," he said. "I wasn’t really getting hit at all. The only time I was getting hit was ‘third-level guys.’ I wasn’t getting touched by linebackers.
"We studied up, and (Friday night) we just had better dudes."
Hand rushed 13 times for 143 yards and touchdowns of 12, 35 and 1 yards. He also passed for 131 yards, completing seven of 13 tries and finding Hunter Anderson (33 yards) and Kaden McDaniel (41 yards) for scores.
Andrews was injured in last week’s loss at McPherson – the same team Augusta will travel to in the second round next Friday.
Filbeck might have had an inkling that junior running back Holt Williams might have a big game Friday, sending him out as Augusta’s lone representative at the coin toss.
And Williams responded, rushing 13 times for 87 yards and scoring a touchdown.
Filbeck said there were some adjustments made by not having Andrews.
"We had enough guys," he said. "We mixed it up a lot. And Jett stepped up big, running the ball well.
"He became a very good running threat (Friday night). He wasn’t hesitant, just trusted what he saw and got going north and south. He’s not a real big guy, but man, he ran hard."
Both teams entered sporting 3-5 records, and Augusta was given the home field on a coin flip.
But the Orioles (4-5) clearly were in command all night. In fact, the Tigers’ only score came on a 65-yard return of a fumble on a kickoff return by their man.
It took awhile for Augusta’s passing game to get going. Ulysses (3-6) early in the game frequently had a defender shooting in and putting pressure on Hand.
"They were packing the box a lot, and we thought they might," Filbeck said. "We’re really a running team, so they put a lot of guys in the box and we just had to get the ball to the edge, or put it in the air.
"That was our best options."
Williams took his turn in the spotlight on Augusta’s drive to open the third quarter. He carried four times in the eight-play drive, accounting for 45 of the 71 yards in the drive, including the final 13 for the score.
Filbeck has the unenviable task of traveling to play the top-seeded Bullpups again, but he thinks the Orioles are up to it – and he said it’s possible that Andrews could return.
"We know we can play with them," he said. "It was a six-point game in the third quarter, (but) they ran away with it … but we’ve got to do it again. We can’t just live off what we did last week."
Ulysses 0;8;0;0 – 8
Augusta 0;28;15;7 – 21
A – Hand 12 run (kick blocked)
A – Hand 35 run (McConathy run)
A – Anderson 33 pass from Hand (kick blocked)
U – Vagher 65 fumble return (Rosales run)
A – Hand 1 run (Lichlyter pass from Hand)
A – Williams 13 run (McConathy pass from Hand)
A – McDaniel 41 pass from Hand (Kohls kick)
A – Barnett 3 run (Kohls kick)
RUSHING: Ulysses: Vagher 18-21, K. Scott 6-8, Kenny 1-1, Rosales 1-(-3), A. Scott 1-(-4). Augusta: Hand 13-143, Williams 13-87, Anderson 4-35, Barnett 7-26, Wilcox 2-20, Lichlyter 2-15, McConathy 2-11, Droney 1-3, Highbarger 1-3, Kiser 4-5, Carey 2-(-7).
PASSING: Ulysses: K. Scott 3-12-2-22. Augusta: Hand 7-13-0-131.
RECEIVING: Ulysses: Martinez 2-23, Degollado 1-(-1). Augusta: Anderson 2-50, Wilcox 2-23, McDaniel 1-41, No. 10 1-16, Lichlyter 1-1.