Cards stuffed by Bobcat defenders
There were 118 more plays to come, nearly 46 minutes of football, three lead changes, three fourth-down conversions, a safety and a successful onside kick.
Still, the first three plays of Eudora's 13-8 loss Tuesday at Basehor-Linwood in the opening-round of the Class 4A state tournament spelled doom for the Cardinals.
No turnovers, no big losses -- they were entirely unspectacular. Senior tailback Travis Clarke ran up the gut for three yards, then one yard. Senior fullback William Gadberry took a turn, losing a yard and the Cardinals punted.
All three runs butted right into an unforeseen and game-deciding strength for the Bobcats, a trio of senior defensive linemen with both the attitude and physique necessary to continue their season.
"A big part of it was their three guys in the middle," Eudora coach Gregg Webb said.
Basehor's Swede Johnson, Ethan Douglas and Austin Hunter -- senior's all -- proved an immovable object Tuesday. Eudora couldn't run through them. It couldn't run around them, and in the end it was a trio of wide-bodied rocks that helped ruin the Cardinals season.
The trio is on its fourth year playing together on the varsity squad, each having lettered every year of high school and each having started on both sides of the ball since their sophomore seasons.
Together, they make a whole heck of a lot of human, especially on the high school field. They add up to more than 860 pounds and average nearly six-feet, four inches.
"They were better than we expected," Webb said. "When they were able to stop us in the middle, they let their perimeter kids take care of everything else and we just couldn't get to the edge."
Running on the edge and the middle was a problem for the Cardinals all night, especially in the first half.
Eudora punted five times in the first 24 minutes, went three and out on five of its first six possessions, had two first downs and only two plays of more than six yards.
"We couldn't block them. We just never got started," Eudora running back Travis Clarke said. "We did well to prepare for them. We knew their three big guys up in the middle would stuff us a lot. I thought we could at least get some blocks on them, but it didn't work."
Eudora finally found some traction against the Basehor lugs in the second half, Clarke emphasizing the point by breaking through for 13 yards on the Cardinals first offensive play. The drive was crippled by a 15-yard chop block penalty and ended in an interception, but not before Clarke rushed twice for 17 yards, only four shy of what he gained the entire first half.
The monsters in the middle came back to haunt Eudora one final time, however. They set Eudora back on consecutive plays at the end of Eudora's last drive, squishing the momentum the Cardinals built by picking up two first downs and setting the team up in a third-and-14 game-on-the-line situation it couldn't dig out of.
"We wore them down a little and had some success, but we got in a hurry, then their nose guard tackles us in the backfield twice on first and second down," Webb said. "That killed us. We had good plays called. If we get one of those, then we're in good shape."