Keeping ‘em coming
Eudora beats Piper 20-6, advances in play
The Eudora High School football team won its third straight regional championship Saturday despite struggling offensively in the first half against Piper.
"We just weren't ready to play," said Eudora coach Gregg Webb. "We were not sharp at all offensively. Going down 6-0 I was concerned, but I felt our kids would strap it out eventually."
The Cardinals (10-1) ended the Pirates (6-5) six-game winning streak, but it wasn't easy.
On Piper's first possession, pint-sized junior quarterback Scott Lipovac, who stands 5'7'' and weighs 118 pounds, connected with senior receiver Jake Hendricks, who made a diving catch in the end zone for a 40-yard pass on third and 15. The Pirates missed the extra point with 5:48 in the first quarter.
Lipovac, 17-of-32 for 169 yards, a touchdown, and an interception, found his favorite receiver, Hendricks, five receptions for 92 yards, routinely in the first half.
Piper's 6-0 lead marked the first time an opponent other than Baldwin enjoyed a lead on the Cards.
toward the end of the first quarter. A pair of runs by senior Andrew Pyle, 31 rushes for 131 yards and two touchdowns, set up a 14-yard touchdown from senior fullback Tyler Jackson, six rushes for 49 yards, with 7:28 in the second. Piper blocked Eudora senior Kaleb Niedens' extra point, and the score was knotted at 6-6.
Senior defensive linemen Joe Born, team-high 14 tackles, and Dustin Moyer, nine tackles, applied pressure on Lipovac all evening. With 6:36 remaining, the Pirates attempted an end around, finding Born waiting to record a tackle for a six-yard loss. On the next play, Born forced an incomplete pass to Lipovac.
"He was only 118 pounds, and those little quarterbacks are fast moving and hard to tackle," Born said. "They did have their catches but in the third and fourth we had more pressure on them."
Webb inserted sophomore quarterback Cole Massey into the game after Cleveland fumbled with 3:39 in the second quarter. Cleveland returned at the beginning of the second half.
The Pirates exposed Eudora's secondary as Hendricks caught another 40-yard pass. Niedens, eight tackles, stopped the Pirates on third and two and Lipovac fell down on a crucial fourth and three, 1:25.
Moyer said the team discussed shortcomings during the halftime intermission.
"We were a little bit frustrated, but we kept our cool for the most part," he said. "We discussed what we needed to do in the second half."
Neither team could find the end-zone for the majority of the third quarter. It appeared as if the Cardinals would catch a break when the Pirates shanked a punt.
However, the referees called a personal foul on Eudora, pinning the Cards back at their own 10 yard line with 4:10 remaining.
With 2:40 in the third quarter, the Cards faced a third and 11 at their own 16-yard line. Cleveland, 4-6 passing for 85 yards, completed a short pass to Pyle, who ran the ball to the Eudora 45-yard line.
Webb said that play might have turned the momentum in the Cards' favor.
"That was a big play for us, and Tyler made a great throw because the play didn't develop right," Webb said.
On the next play, Cleveland went to back to the air. Niedens hauled in a 37-yard pass, giving the Cards an opportunity to put points on the board. Ironically, the Cardinals used the passing game to establish a rushing touchdown.
Pyle punched in a five-yard touchdown run with 1:11 in the third quarter, and Niedens connected on the extra point, 13-6.
"It's always the other way around with us," Webb said. "We run to set up the pass and we could not run the ball like we normally do. We need to run the football better if we're going to go farther than this."
Piper junior running back Sean Lampson tried to bring the Pirates back into the game, but sophomores Chris Durkin, eight tackles, Cole Massey, and Niedens wouldn't allow it.
Pyle added a 20-yard touchdown, his 32nd of the season, with 5:03 in the game. Niedens made his second straight extra point, giving Eudora a 20-6 lead.
Moyer tipped a Lipovac pass, and Van Horn sealed the victory with an interception.
Born added the exclamation point on Eudora's regional championship by sacking Lipovac as time expired.
Webb said Piper presented a difficult test for the Cardinals. He expects Eudora to improve its toughness in the next couple of games.
"They're a good football team, and they're here for a reason," Webb said. "We were not very physical, and their team was more physical than our team. I was really disappointed in the way we played on Saturday."
The Cardinals set a new record wins in a season with their 10th victory. Webb, however, said he didn't think the 10 victories should be a cause for celebration.
"My involvement with the school only goes back to this year," Webb said. "If we're going to be a power in class 4A, we will not be making a big deal of winning games like this."