Cardinals hang on for victory
With the game winding down and overtime looking like a strong possibility in a 20-20 game, Eudora senior quarterback Kyle Brouhard, who had struggled through the air the entire night, literally took the game into his own hands.
The Cards stood at the brink of the go-ahead score and Brouhard pushed them over, tucking the ball away at the 20-yard line and running for victory.
"I broke off the first tackler and then I saw the yellow line and I knew I was going to score no matter what," Brouhard said.
The quarterback found the end zone with 23 seconds remaining to give the Cardinals a 26-20 victory over the Anderson County Bulldogs Friday night in Garnett.
As the night began, the Bulldogs seemed poised to make sure the homecoming crowd wouldn't leave disappointed.
The Bulldogs broke out on top late in the opening quarter as senior running back David Gooding broke through the Cardinal defense for a 15-yard run and a 6-0 Anderson County advantage.
But in what has become an ongoing theme, the Cardinals quickly responded. Early in the second quarter, in what would be one of the few successes of the Eudora air-attack, Brouhard found senior receiver Miles Cleveland down the middle of the field for a 35-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 6-6.
Brouhard finished the night 9-for-20 through the air with 104 yards.
The Cardinals backed that drive up by putting together a sustained drive late in the second quarter, which was aided by a Bulldog facemask penalty. The drive resulted in a two-yard Luke Abel touchdown run.
The Cardinals took a 12-6 lead into the locker room, but after the up-and-down first half, the lead was far from secure.
"The first half we came out so flat," head coach Gregg Webb said. "They really beat us up on the offensive line."
Eudora's hopes of expanding on the lead were quickly squashed as the stingy Bulldog defense put the clamps down on the Cardinals opening drive.
On the second possession of the third quarter, disaster struck for the Cardinals and their struggling passing game.
With the Cardinals deep in their own territory, defensive back B.J. Rues stepped in front of a Brouhard pass and turned it into six points the other way as he raced 25 yards for the score and a 12-12 tie.
Anderson County forced another punt, took the ball and seemed poised to mount a scoring drive that would give them the lead as the third quarter wound down.
But as the Cardinal offense was spinning its wheels, the defense rose to the challenge.
On second down and eight, the Eudora front four breached the Bulldog offensive line and pressured quarterback Grant Suderman into a wobbly throw that was picked off by senior defensive back Austin Calhoon.
After a return of 38 yards, the Cardinals took the ball and the momentum into the end zone with another Luke Abel touchdown run.
The senior running back finished the evening 64 yards on the ground on 25 attempts.
The successful two-point conversion gave the Cards a 20-12 lead with 11 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
But the Bulldogs weren't done.
The Bulldogs mounted an eight-play, 65-yard drive that ended with an eight-yard pass from Suderman to Cameron Cooper for the score. Anderson County added its own successful two-point conversion for a 20-20 tie.
After a deep kickoff, the Cardinals began what would be the game-winning drive at their own 35-yard line.
Eudora kept to the ground with a combination of Luke Abel, Brouhard and senior James Mills on its way to the victory.
"Their defensive line was a lot better than we thought, quite honestly," Brouhard said. "We couldn't run inside. But we'd been in that situation before and we had all three timeouts left, so we thought we'd have a good shot."