Here in Eudora, they may as well just call it 'the pass.' Eudora junior quarterback Tyler Cleveland of the run-dominated Cardinals, completed a 46-yard pass to junior receiver Joey Donahue that saved Eudora's season.
Cleveland and Donahue became the heroes of the Cards 21-14 bi-district championship triumph over archrival Baldwin Tuesday night.
Usually its senior running backs Andrew Pyle or Tyler Jackson making headlines but Tuesday's contest will be remembered for that one play.
Trailing 14-13 with only 2:53 left in the game, Cleveland, five-of-nine for 80 yards, completed a 46-yard pass, his longest of the season, to Donahue, who made three catches for 70 yards against the Bulldogs (6-4). The Cards (9-1) picked up an additional 15 yards on a pass interference penalty.
"He's a good receiver and he's got good hands," Eudora coach Gregg Webb said of Donahue, a Baldwin native. "He takes some crap for coming over from Baldwin."
Webb jokingly attributed the Cards passing success to a 7-on-7 passing-only tournament championship in Gardner this summer. During that tournament, Cleveland connected with Donahue as well as then-receivers sophomore Cole Massey, senior Luke Powers, and senior lineman Michael Paxton.
Ironically, Donahue's reception contrasted Eudora's trademark running game. With the Bulldogs keeping Eudora seniors Pyle, 18 rushes for 95 yards and two touchdowns, Jackson, Powers, and junior Mark Lister in check, the Cards adapted quickly.
"They just said 'you're not running trap," Webb said of the stifling Bulldog defense. "They outplayed us tonight. We were very, very fortunate to win this game."
The Bulldogs outgained Eudora 200-158 on the ground and 312-238 overall.
Webb was waiting for the Cardinals to prove themselves in a close game or in a come-from-behind situation.
"I was real nervous about this game," Webb said. "It's good to win one of these games. I'm proud of the way our kids came back. Our defense played tremendously inside our 30 (all second quarter)."
The longest pass of the season also gave the Cards great field position but Cleveland, 10 rushes for 50 yards, fumbled at the one yard line and luckily, senior Joe Born recovered.
Cleveland scored on a one-yard keeper with 1:38 remaining. He completed the two-point conversion pass to Jackson, six tackles, to give Eudora a 21-14 advantage.
Senior Dustin Moyer, seven tackles, made it his personal responsibility to stop Baldwin's final drive. Sophomore Chris Durkin, 10 tackles, also played a key role on defense for the Cards.
Moyer pushed back Baldwin junior running back Micah Mason, 26 rushes for 125 yards and two touchdowns, with 30 seconds left before sacking Bulldogs junior quarterback Jason Kesinger, 11-18, 112 yards and one interception, with 14 seconds left in the game.
Born, team-high 11 tackles, was also in on the sack.
"Joe and Dustin do a great job," Webb said. "We wouldn't be 9-1 if we didn't have players like that."
The Cards and the Bulldogs both sputtered offensively for most of the first quarter. Eudora began a drive in the first quarter that they punched in seven seconds into the second quarter.
Lister and Powers ran the ball for a few yards near the goal line before Pyle rushed for a three-yard touchdown on third and two. Senior kicker/linebacker Kaleb Niedens, nine tackles, made the extra point, 7-0.
Baldwin junior kicker Justin Goff missed a field goal with 8:31 remaining. The Bulldogs threatened to score before halftime until they were plagued with penalties.
Eudora sophomore Josh Barr picked up a sack on fourth and 33 for the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs put themselves on the board with 6:31 in the third quarter. Mason scored on a 23-yard run set up by a Donahue fumble on an end-around play. Goff missed the extra point for Baldwin.
Donahue more than made up for the fumble on an outstanding punt that put the Bulldogs at their own 20-yard line with 5:04 in the third. Mason came up limping out of a pile with 3:58 on the clock, but junior Kyle Flory, 11 rushes for 53 yards, and junior Andrew Hannon made up for it.
Toward the end of the third quarter, Eudora's offensive standouts, Cleveland and Pyle made some monumental plays. Cleveland stopped Goff in his tracks and Pyle came up with his third interception of the season on the next play. Donahue gained several yards after contact on a third and five play before Pyle rushed for 22 yards up the middle. Pyle scored his 30th touchdown of the season, a seven-yard run to put Eudora ahead 13-6 with 7:58 in the game.
Webb then decided to try and make it a two possession game by going for the two-point conversion.
"I really felt our kids had momentum, but sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't."
With Mason back in the game, the Bulldogs rallied again. Webb recalled Baldwin's late game theatrics after Hannon, a wide receiver, threw a long pass downfield to junior receiver Brian Turk, 7:07.
"We didn't do a good job of tackling and (stopping) trick plays," Webb said, "and we could never get Mason to the ground."
Baldwin faced a fourth and eight with 4:35 in the game, but Mason caught a pass in traffic and the Cards were called for a facemask. Mason scored on a six-yard run with 3:37 in the game. The gutsy Bulldogs decided to go for two points. Kesinger's pass to senior receiver Ryne Jackson was complete, giving Baldwin a 14-13 lead.
Donahue's kick return gave the Cards good field position to set up his memorable pass reception from Cleveland.
Webb, who previously wasn't fazed by the rivalry factor with Baldwin, is now having second thoughts about it.
"I start to feel it a little bit," Webb said of the rivalry. "They know each other so well and they play hard. You get to know faces a little better."
Eudora will host Piper (6-4) Saturday night in the next round of the playoffs. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
If the Cardinals defeat the Pirates, they will play Girard (7-3), who upset Parsons 6-0 Tuesday night, or Paola (6-4) Nov. 15. The Panthers, who lost to Eudora 44-0 on Sept. 27, defeated Ottawa (5-5) for the second time this season, 21-0.