ROSE HILL – It was another day at the office for Buhler running back Sam Elliott. The junior Crusader rushed for 280 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Rose Hill in the Class 4A regional playoff match up with the Rose Hill Rockets on Friday.
But, just as impressive for Buhler was the play of their defense against a Rocket offense that had averaged 40 points a game during a six-game winning streak they carried into the match up. The Crusaders got it done up front, limiting big plays and shutting down the run game. All of that on the back of a quick start led the visitors to a dominating 42-8 win.
"I thought our secondary played very well," Buhler coach Steve Warner said. "They’ve improved so much this year, we had zero starters back from last year, and they’re really playing well right now."
Just over two minutes into the game, defensive back Levi Perez picked up a Rose Hill fumble and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown. Just over two minutes in, the Crusaders led 7-0.
Soon after, the Crusader defense pushed the Rockets back and earned outstanding field position for the offense. The first offensive series started at the Rose Hill 23, and two plays later, Elliott was in the end zone for a 14-0 lead.
As the first half went on, Buhler continued to do no wrong. Collin Rolland rumbled in for a six-yard score early in the second quarter for a 21-0 Crusader lead.
Then, a pair of big plays put the game away before halftime as quarterback Bradley Neill threw a 36-yard touchdown to Ryan Henderson, and Elliott broke loose for a 73-yard touchdown run. The Crusaders went into the break with a commanding 35-0 lead.
From a scoring standpoint, the second half was not very productive for Buhler, but on two drives that did not produce any points; they ate up around six minutes of game clock. For a time, the Crusaders were executing so well that they converted their first seven opportunities on third down.
The Rockets got on the board late in the third quarter when quarterback Bryson Evans found Chase Green on a screen pass for a 43-yard touchdown. Spencer Nolan ran the ball in for a two-point conversion to make it 35-8.
The Crusaders would get one more touchdown when backup fullback Levi Atherton went 13 yards to paydirt with 4:15 to play.
As a team, Buhler gained 428 yards of offense, with 349 coming on the ground. They limited the Rockets to 224 yards including just 37 on the ground.
Now the Crusaders look ahead to a rematch at McPherson next week in the state quarterfinal round. The Bullpups advanced with a 52-20 win over Augusta. They defeated Buhler 18-6 on Oct. 9.
"It’s going to be a big game, (McPherson’s) offense is good and their defense is good," Warner said. "We’re going to have play well to beat them."
BUHLER 42, ROSE HILL 8
Buhler – 14;21;0;7 – 42
Rose Hill – 0;0;8;0 – 8
B – Levi Perez 50 yd fumble return (Jeffery Neill kick good)
B – Sam Elliott 21 yd run (J. Neill kick good)
B – Collin Rolland 6 yd run (J. Neill kick good)
B – Ryan Henderson 36 yd pass from Bradley Neill (J. Neill kick good)
B – Elliott 73 yd run (J. Neill kick good)
RH – Chase Green 43 yd pass from Bryson Evans (Spencer Nolan run)
B – Levi Atherton 13 yd run (J. Neill kick good)
RUSHING: Buhler – Elliott 34-280; Rolland 3-17; B. Neill 2-9; Campbell 1-(-1); McCurdy 1-13; Atherton 1-13; Patton 4-19; Voss 1-(-1). Rose Hill – Nolan 17-55; Evans 6-(-18); Kochick 1-0-0.
PASSING C-A-TD-I-YD: Buhler: B. Neill – 4-5-1-0-73. Rose Hill: Bryson Evans – 11-26-1-1-187.
RECEIVING: Buhler – Rolland 1-13; Coffey 2-24; Henderson 1-36; Elliott 1-6. Rose Hill – Green 3-83; Kiser 2-34; Bischler 4-45; Kochick 1-7; Nolan 1-18.