Cardinals can’t handle Louisburg’s long bombs
Clinging to a one-point lead through three quarters, the Eudora Cardinals held their own on the road against Louisburg, despite the absence of leading rusher Luke Abel. But as the fourth quarter of Tuesday's bi-district playoff tilt in Louisburg began, the Wildcats showed Eudora just what they were missing.
Louisburg racked up 214 second-half rushing yards, including 113 in the fourth quarter on its way to a 44-30 win over the Cardinals.
"They just started going to a double tight set in the second half," head coach Gregg Webb said. "We just didn't adjust on the perimeter. We couldn't stop them."
Eudora had a difficult time matching the steam generated by the Wildcat run game in the second half.
The Cardinals (8-2) finished the game with 68 yards rushing, just 17 in the second half.
As the game began, the Cardinals rendered the Louisburg ground attack a non-factor.
Fierce penetration up front by juniors Todd Roberts and Richard Wilks held the Wildcats to minimal gains on their first four possessions.
Louisburg was forced to go to the air in the first quarter and it paid off as Ryan Holt found a wide-open Drew Hutchison down the right sideline for a 76-yard strike and a 7-0 Wildcat lead.
The Cardinals struck back, however. Before the quarter drew to a close Eudora matched the score and marched down the field for a second touchdown. The drive included a 49-yard hook-up from quarterback Kyle Brouhard to Mark Abel and was finished off by a one-yard Brouhard run and an 8-7 lead.
Junior Loni Ogden later bruised his way over the goal line for a 16-7 halftime lead.
If the theme of the second half was the Cardinals' inability to stop the run, the first half was all about missed opportunities.
Eudora couldn't convert a second-quarter drive despite two defensive pass interference penalties deep in Wildcat territory. Later, the Cardinals once again were given the opportunity to increase the lead as junior Austin Hoover intercepted a deflected Holt pass inside the 50-yard line. That drive stalled and the Cardinals once again came up empty-handed.
After the Wildcats were held to 46 yards rushing in the first half, the squad came out of the second half looking to try again.
Jason Spradling, coupled with fullback Danny Kueser, took it to the Cardinals on the ground as Louisburg found its footing on the opening drive. The Wildcats drove 65 yards on six plays and finished with a one-yard Holt run to cut the lead to 16-15.
The Cardinals tried to answer as the third quarter went on, but a drive that came about from a Louisburg fumble stalled on fourth-and-one at the Wildcat eight.
"We were down there inside the 10 and couldn't get a yard on a formation that we could run with," Webb said. "We just couldn't make the big plays when we had to."
The missed opportunity proved costly as the Wildcats opened the fourth-quarter with another short Holt touchdown run, giving Louisburg a 23-16 lead.
Eudora bounced back through the air as Brouhard connected with Rodney Spillman for a 53-yard pass and another shot deep in Louisburg territory. Brouhard found Miles Cleveland on the very next play to cut the lead to 23-22.
But Louisburg had something up their sleeve as they immediately struck back. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Spradling stopped in his tracks after a hand-off and found sophomore Billy Ewy wide open for the halfback pass. Ewy rumbled 83 yards for the score and a 30-22 lead.
Louisburg extended its lead to 37-22 as Spradling, who finished with 150 yards rushing, raced 24 yards for the touchdown.
The Cardinals gave one last gasp when Brouhard found Mark Abel on a 22-yard strike to pull to within seven, 37-30, but the Wildcats put the cap on the 29-point fourth quarter as Holt hit Ewy for 60 yards and a touchdown for the winning margin.
"I don't know what happened to our defense," Webb said. "They just got tired I guess, but giving up 37 points in the second half was inexcusable."
Mark Abel finished the game with 128 yards on five receptions. Spillman hauled in six catches for 87 yards, while Brouhard went 15-of-28 for 265 yards through the air. Brouhard was also the Cardinals leading rusher with 30 yards.
The Wildcats had 538 total yards of offense, 403 of those came in the second half.