Andover Trojans suffer season-opening loss in a defensive battle against the Maize Eagles

Greg Williams
Butler County Times Gazette
Max Middleton runs through Maize defenders in 17-14 loss

ANDOVER, Kansas – It was such a highly anticipated matchup between Andover and Maize, mother nature decided to let them play on two days instead of one.

The game featured playmakers like Andover's senior running back Max Middleton and Maize's junior quarterback Avery Johnson, but both defenses were on display on Friday and Saturday

Andover (0-1) kept Johnson and the Eagles' offense quiet by allowing 164 yards, but Maize (1-0) caused more damage in the Trojans' 17-14 loss by forcing four turnovers.

"Coach (Dustin) Murray does a great job with getting the kids to buy in," said Andover head coach Ken Dusenbury. "I'm really proud of our defense on how our defense played because Maize has special athletes."

One of the turnovers happened on the second play of the game. Middleton fumbled and it was recovered by Maize inside the Trojans 20-yard line. Andover was able to minimize the damage as they held the Eagles to a 38-yard field goal.

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Despite the fumble, Middleton finished with 117 yards on 32 carries.

On the Trojans' next possession, they got to the goal line and almost didn't come away with points. However, on fourth and goal, junior quarterback Brady Strausz found senior wide receiver Tayton Klein in the back of the endzone for a touchdown.

Maize started to get things going as they drove down the field and got inside the Trojans' five-yard line. Andover stood tall and forced a turnover on downs. 

However, inside their five-yard line, the Trojans went three-and-out. The Eagles would start at midfield and would set themselves up for a 37-yard field. However, the kick was no good.

Later, all eyes were on Maize's quarterback Avery Johnson to orchestrate a two-minute drill at midfield, but he didn't need much time.

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It took 21 seconds, but Johnson found junior wide receiver Justin Stephens for a 14-yard touchdown to take a 10-7 lead into halftime.

Coming out of halftime, Maize was set to return the kickoff, but the Andover special teams got fooled.

One returner would catch the ball and once he does that, three other players huddle up with the returner and one of them will get the ball. Jaeden Martin was the player that ended up with the ball and returned it for an 84-yard touchdown.

"You can't make mistakes against a team like Maize," said Dusenbury. "It's their first game and they didn't make the mistakes. Hats off to them."

Andover was responding with a productive drive of their own, however, the game entered a weather delay as inclement weather came into the area.

Both teams resumed on Saturday and the Trojans struck quickly. Strausz kept the ball on a design read and ran it 27-yards to the endzone. Andover would trail 17-14 but never came close to scoring again. 

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"We made minor tweaks [following the postponement]," said Dusenbury. "We usually run counter with our fullback, but our quarterback [Strausz] ran it, and thankfully it worked."

In Andover's final possession, they got the ball back with 3:44 remaining, but after a 17-yard run by Middleton to start the drive, the Trojans went backward with five yards loss and penalty. 

The Trojans turned it over on downs and that gave the Eagles the chance to run the clock out. 

Andover will start the season with a loss and prepare for a road matchup against Arkansas City. The two will face each other at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 10. 

Maize 17, Andover 14

Maize - 3;7;7;0; - 17

Andover - 7;0;7;0 - 14

Scoring

Maize: 36-yard field goal by Cole Segraves.

Andover: Klein 4-yard TD pass from Strausz (Champlin kick).

Maize: Stephens 1-yard TD pass from Johnson (Segraves kick).

Maize: Martin 84-yard TD return (Segraves kick).

Andover: Strausz 27-yard TD run (Champlin kick).