VERDIGRIS — Speed, speed, speed. There should have been a speed trap thrown up by the Verdigris Cardinals.
On a night featuring big plays, top-ranked Berryhill had the most — and best — in cruising to a 55-26 District 3A-4 victory over VHS on Senior Night. The Chiefs finished regular season play 10-0 and 7-0 in the district. Verdigris dropped to 5-5 and 4-3.
Berryhill scored five touchdowns on plays of 35 yards or more with quarterback Cody Ross hitting 9-of-16 passes for 298 yards and four TDs. Speed was the name of the game as the Chiefs constantly victimized the Cardinals defensive secondary with their burning quickness.
Even so, the home team was not without impressive moments of its own. Junior Toby Willis returned a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown while senior running back Hayden Hutchison gained 99 yards on 18 carries. But the Cards did turn the ball over five times and wasted 137 penalty yards given up by Berryhill on 15 infractions.
After honoring nine seniors before the game, the Cardinals fell behind 20-0 in the opening period. On the game’s first play, Ross found junior Braden Hendrix for a 78-yard score. Ross followed up by connecting with Brenden Morrow from 37 yards and later senior Tyler Davis returned a blocked field goal attempt 92 yards for a TD.
Fueled by a 38-yard Brant Hager to Carson Calvert pass play and three pass interference calls against the Chiefs, VHS broke its silence when Hager located Trey Armstrong from three yards out. Tragen Appelman booted the Cards within 20-7 just six seconds deep in quarter two.
Verdigris covered 60 yards in five snaps to make it 20-13 when Hager kept the ball for a three-yard score four minutes into the second period. However, Berryhill got methodical with an 89-yard, 14-play drive, culminating on Daniel Rice’s two-yard score. Rice, finishing with 92 yards on 17 attempts, had two more rushing touchdowns ahead of him.
The teams closed the first half with two TDs 14 seconds apart. Ross tossed a 35-yard strike to Rice, giving the Chiefs a 34-13 lead. Willis followed up by returning the ensuing kickoff 82 yards, bringing Verdigris to within 34-20 at intermission.
Berryhill dominated the second half, starting with another two-yard score by Rice. The Chiefs chewed up 90 yards in three plays, making it 48-20 on Ross’ 85-yard heave to Hendrix, then the gap increased to 55-20 on Dylan Dodgin’s 15-yard score.
Sophomore Alec James entered the game late for Verdigris, carrying seven consecutive times before scoring from 15 yards with 8:04 remaining. James managed 75 yards on 12 carries.
Verdigris will now play at Lincoln Christian Friday in the first round of the 3A playoffs. Game time is 7:30 p.m.