Cardinals down Trojans
As the stunned crowd at Laws Field watched Osawatomie's Jasper Needham race down the field, returning a fumble 95 yards for a go-ahead touchdown, it seemed the breaks that had fallen the Trojans' way all night would finally result in their victory.
But with an undefeated record on the line, Eudora pieced together a seven play, 70-yard drive that culminated in a 16-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Kyle Brouhard to Miles Cleveland. The drive gave the Cardinals the margin of victory 24-22 and a 2-0 record.
With an 18-16 lead and less than three minutes to go, the Cardinals had been poised to deliver the final nail in what was sure to be a victory. Eudora was trying to capitalize on an interception by senior Mark Abel that had the Cardinals inside the Trojan 10-yard line as time wound down.
But at the five-yard line, Needham, the Trojans' sophomore cornerback, darted straight into the teeth of the Eudora offensive line and stripped running back James Mills of the ball, racing the length of the field to give Osawatomie a 22-18 lead.
The touchdown was one part of a night of football where it seemed every bounce, deflection and busted play went the way of the visitors.
But on the last drive that sewed up the win, Eudora didn't rely on any lucky bounces. Instead, it relied upon execution.
"Sometimes you just have to calm them down by telling them to just run the play and do what we need to do," head coach Gregg Webb said. "In a situation like this, play calling is everything. If you panic in the play calling, then it could make the kids panic as well."
The Cardinal offense, which struggled a week prior in a win over Wellsville, began the night with a sustained drive that netted the first score of the game, a nine-yard touchdown run by Mills.
Eudora had a 6-0 lead after the kick failed.
In the Wellsville game, it was our first game and we had an inexperienced offensive line," Brouhard said. "We were able to throw on them a little bit so things were working for us."
But when the second quarter got under way, the bounces started to go the way of the Trojans as they marched down the field and into the end zone for an 8-6 lead.
Osawatomie scored with three minutes gone in the second quarter on a one-yard run by Anthony Waddle.
The extra point attempt was fumbled but landed in the hands of junior lineman Mike Russell. The 193-pounder managed to float a pass to Waddle that gave the Trojans the two-point lead.
But the Cardinals, in what would become their own theme for the evening, responded. Brouhard began to exploit the Trojan secondary down the sidelines and connected to Cleveland for a 27-yard gain.
"Coach (Webb) was being told by the coach up in the booth and (wide receivers coach Ryan) Luke that we would be able to throw at them on the outside," Brouhard said. "So we were able to go at them and it worked."
The Cardinals found themselves back on top as senior Luke Abel, who finished the evening with 99 yards on the ground, sliced through the Trojan defense to cap the drive and give Eudora a 12-8 halftime lead.
The Trojans came out in the second half and wasted little time driving down the field. And once again the breaks went the way of Osawatomie.
As the visitors neared the 50-yard line, a pass from senior Aaron French seemed destined to fall incomplete after it bounced out of the hands of Waddle. But the ball found its way into the hands of Taylor French who promptly scampered 33 yards into the Eudora red zone.
A few plays later, French sent the ball toward wide out Blake Draper, but another deflection put the ball up for grabs. Right on cue, sophomore D.J. Smith hauled in the errant throw and ran it in for six.
The successful conversion gave the Trojans a 16-12 lead.
But the Cardinals once again responded with a drive that ate five minutes off the clock and ended with junior Loni Ogden bruising his way to an 11-yard touchdown run and an 18-16 Cardinal lead.
That lead held until the late fumble recovery by Needham put the game in doubt.
Along with the awakened offense, which racked up 472 total yards, the Cardinal defense was called upon time after time to stop the Trojans at key junctions.
On the final drive, the defense -- which held Aaron French to just 7-for-21 passing -- stifled the Trojans and forced a fumble in the waning seconds. Osawatomie's Sean Pass recovered the ball but the swarming Cardinals made sure the broken play ended in a four-yard loss.
And as the clock ran out, so did the Trojan's luck.
"To get away with a win like this when it seemed that every break in the world was going against us was good," Webb said. "But we have to make our own breaks and we have to play hard."