Eudora bowls over Santa Fe Trail in first round of districts
After a few weeks of big scoring and big plays, the Eudora Cardinals played it safe and kept things simple Friday as they stuck to the running game to defeat Santa Fe Trail 36-6 in week one of district play.
In the two previous games, the Cardinals capitalized on turnovers and big plays to crush Central Heights 61-6 and lead De Soto by as many as 39.
But Friday saw the Cardinals use the running game to march down the field in a methodical manner to get the job done.
"It was work tonight," head coach Gregg Webb said. "After putting together a few games like that (Central Heights and De Soto) you kind of start to feel that every game is going to be that way. But I knew this was going to be a tough one. They don't give up the big play and we really did have to work tonight to get what we got."
The work began for the Cardinals late in the first quarter.
After stalling on their opening drive the Cardinals gave the Chargers a brief advantage by fumbling the ball on their second possession.
However, the Chargers promptly returned the favor as a deflected pass from Santa Fe Trail quarterback Brian Shively found its way into the arms of Cardinal defensive back Miles Cleveland.
The interception gave Eudora the ball at its own 33-yard line.
Immediately the Cardinals took to the ground as a combination of senior running back Luke Abel and senior fullback James Mills put the ball on the Chargers doorstep.
Senior quarterback Kyle Brouhard finished off the 67-yard drive with a one-yard plunge to give Eudora the lead 6-0.
The Chargers however, had an answer.
After a successful conversion by Mills made the score 8-0, Santa Fe Trail put together its own extended drive that took up the final minutes of the first quarter.
The big play of the drive was a 31-yard run that took the home team to the Cardinal 11-yard line.
From there, Shively found senior receiver Shawn Conklin in the back of the end zone to cut the Eudora lead to 8-6.
But that would be as close as the Chargers would come as the Cardinals used up a little more than four minutes to author a response.
Luke Abel, who finished the night with 140 yards rushing, broke off chunks of yardage on the lengthy run-heavy drive to once again put the Cardinals at the Chargers' goal line.
This time, Mills rammed his way over the line to give the Cards a 14-6 lead, which held up going into halftime.
As the second half got under way, the Chargers emerged from the locker room hoping to duplicate the response after Eudora's first touchdown.
But the Cardinal defense put a stop to any such thoughts as Santa Fe Trail went three-and-out in its first possession, giving the Eudora ground attack another chance.
Eudora once again drove the ball down the field to the Charger 16-yard line. But for one of the few times during the night, Eudora changed directions and put the ball in the air.
After evading a Charger blitz, Brouhard managed to find Mills in the midfield. The senior signal caller floated the ball to Mills and the fullback did the rest, busting his way to the end zone for his second touchdown on the night and a 22-6 lead.
The good feelings were soon tempered as time wound down in the third quarter.
As Eudora continued to bruise Santa Fe Trail with the run, it was Mills' turn to do some damage. On a third and short, the fullback dove into the Chargers line, but as he emerged from the pile it was with a limp.
After what appeared to be an ankle injury, Mills left the game and did not return.
"Ankles are bad," Webb said. "They linger and linger, and you've got to tape them up and baby them. We don't know how bad it is right now, but if he thinks it hurts, then it's bad, because he's tough."
After Mills' exit, junior Austin Hoover came in to deliver the final two scores for the Cardinals, a two-yard run early in the fourth and a three-yard plunge as time wound down in the game.
Hoover's touchdowns were the third and fourth rushing scores of the game for Eudora to go along with its 294 yards on the ground.
Adding to the Cardinal running game, the Eudora defense turned in another solid performance on Friday as the unit held the Chargers to 30 yards of total offense in the second half.
In a limited Cardinal passing game, senior Mark Abel led all receivers with three receptions for 49 yards.
Eudora continues district play Friday against Spring Hill at Laws Field. Kick off is at 7 p.m.