The Frontier League has proven to be one of the toughest football leagues in the state this season with two of the top, undefeated teams in Paola and Tonganoxie. The Cyclones already felt the power of Paola this season and Friday night, they saw up close and personal why Tonganoxie has rolled through this season without a loss. Ottawa fell to the Chieftains 62-7.
By the time Ottawa quarterback Caleb Kessinger, who returned from injury for the game, connected with Payton Lee for a 2-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, the outcome of the game was mostly decided.
The combination of Tonganoxie offense, led by their senior running back Cooper Cunningham and Ottawa turnovers put the Cyclones in a 56-0 hole in the first half.
Tonganoxie scored on a four-play drive to open the game. Cunningham scored the first of his five touchdowns. On Ottawa’s first possession they gained a first down behind the running of sophomore Aaron Clevenger. But the drive stalled and Ottawa had to punt.
Ottawa’s defense came up big on the next drive stopping the Tonganoxie offense and forcing a punt but the Cyclones could not get their offense on track and again were forced to punt. Tonganoxie’s Cunningham would score two more on the ground to extend the lead to 21-0 but then Ottawa caught a break when he fumbled late in the first quarter.
Ottawa took over deep in Tonganoxie territory but on the first play, Cunningham picked off a pass from Kessinger and returned it 75-yards for a touchdown. Ottawa would fumble again the first quarter and set up another Tonganoxie score. At the start of the second quarter, Tonganoxie forced another fumble and returned it for a touchdown.
Kessinger finished the game with 160 yards on 11 completions. Jose Richards caught four passes for 72 yards to led Ottawa. Daidrien Aho had 44 yards receiving and Lane Hughes had 42.
The final game of the season will be this Friday and it doesn’t get any easier for Ottawa. The last game is scheduled by the team’s district record. That means the Cyclones get to travel to Paola to play the undefeated Panthers Friday night. Game time is 7 p.m.