Cleveland comes up big in 27-6 win
At 5-foot-7 and maybe 140 pounds, Evan Cleveland isn’t big. But he sure plays that way.
Cleveland, Eudora’s senior all-purpose running back, quarterback, receiver, defensive back and kick returner, rushed for 136 yards on 22 carries and scored one touchdown and nabbed one big late interception to lead Eudora to a 27-6 victory Friday at De Soto.
Clinging to a 7-6 lead at the half, Eudora took the opening drive of the third quarter and marched to the end zone, covering 81 yards in 13 plays. Cleveland had runs of 14, 14, 12 and eight yards on the drive. Cleveland also rushed four straight times on quarterback sweeps that moved Eudora from the De Soto 30-yard line to the three-yard line. The drive culminated with Hawley Montgomery recovering a fumble in the end zone that pushed Eudora’s lead to 14-6.
Eudora fumbled three times in the first half. De Soto’s Logan Clark returned one of those fumbles 54 yards in the second quarter for De Soto’s only points.
At halftime, Eudora had 113 total yards of offense, and De Soto totaled just 86 yards of offense. Eudora had just five first downs in the half, and three were via De Soto personal-foul penalties. But in the second, Cleveland converted three big third downs to keep Cardinal drives alive.
“The first half, we struggled big-time,” Cleveland said. “But those third-down onversions … we get ourselves together and get done what needs to get done. We get that first down and we want to keep going, and waste time off the clock, and really want to score.”
Eudora’s offense came to life in the second half, as Drew Noble hit Coulter Vestal on a deep bomb for 74 yards. Boomer Mays finished that four-play, 79-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run to push Eudora’s lead to 20-6 midway through the fourth quarter.
On the ensuing De Soto (0-2) possession, Cleveland intercepted a pass and returned it 20 yards.
“They threw it deep, and I just read the quarterback’s eyes and went with it,” Cleveland said. “The ball was tipped. I came down with it and ran out of bounds and secured it.”
Cleveland finished that Eudora drive with a 40-yard burst up the middle right behind center Matt Schultz to the end zone.
“That was very good blocking on that play,” Cleveland said. “I didn’t even get touched.”
Eudora improved to 2-0. It is also the second game in a row that Eudora’s defense hasn’t allowed a point.
De Soto completed just six of 20 passes in the game for 52 yards and rushed 36 times for just 75 yards. Senior Tanner Byrne had two sacks on the night, both coming on consecutive plays early in the fourth.
“The defense played a great game tonight,” Byrne said. “We shut them down.”
Brian Katzfey recorded an interception in the end zone on the game’s final play and also scored Eudora’s first touchdown of the night in the second quarter on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Drew Noble.
“I feel almost guilty the way we played the first half to be ahead, 7-6,” Eudora coach Gregg Webb said. “I mean, that had to kill them (De Soto). It had to kill them. And then we struggled, but the first drive of the second half was huge. Once we got ahead, 14-6, then they kind of saw that it was going to be pretty tough and our kids got fired up. And what it did was it gave our defense a little rest because they were out there the entire first half.”
Eudora will travel Friday to Ottawa. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.