Elston_run_Santa Fe TrailQB Grant Elston takes off on a run during the win over Santa Fe Trail (photo by Eudorareporter.com Photojournalist Julie Stewart)

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On a cold and wet night, the Eudora Cardinals outlasted the Santa Fe Trail Chargers 14-13 in a very lackluster performance. Warmth, fans and good football all were absent from Eudora District Stadium on Friday night as Eudora High began district play.  At least it wasn’t raining during the game.

You could feel a sense in the air prior to kickoff that this was going to be a long night as falling temperatures and a slight wind settled over the stadium prior to kickoff.  That feeling was proven on the field shortly after kickoff.  Neither new Eudora QB Grant Elston or Santa Fe Trail’s Weston Gloss could make any significant gains running or passing on the wet field. Elston and RB Chris Rivers attempted a multitude of runs but could not move the ball. During the 1st quarter both teams were going 4 and out as neither side was interested in trying to punt the ball.

It wasn’t until 5:24 left in the 2nd quarter that Elston made the second longest run of the night when he broke off a 31 yard run to find the end zone and put Eudora on the board. Elston, who is also the Cardinal kicker, added the extra point to give EHS a 7-0 lead that the Cards took to the locker room at halftime.

Slips, falls, and fumbles were common through the game. As the rain had stopped just an hour before game time, slick field conditions caused many problems for both teams.  After multiple runs, SFT finally got a passing game going in the second half when Gloss hit Seth Coltrane with a short pass that he took 18 yards to set up the Chargers on the Eudora 10 yard line. Gloss then hit WR Tyler Mundy with an 8 yard pass with 7:36 left in the 3rd quarter. With the extra point by kicker Darric Cashier, the Chargers tied the game up.

Eudora continued their season long trend of a bend but don’t break style of defense. The Cardinals had a hard time tackling all night long, but never allow large enough gains for the Chargers to make significant progress. The Chargers finally made it back into the Cardinal red zone with a little over 7 minutes left in the game, making it all the way to 2 yard line. The Chargers attempted to go for the TD from the 2, but the Cards defense stood them up.  With the Cardinals backed up in their own end zone, they attempted a run on their first play and promptly fumbled the ball at the 3 yard line which SFT scooped up and scored a touchdown. Cashier missed the extra point, which would later prove pivotal, to give the Chargers a 6 point lead.

Elston_xpkick_Santa Fe TrailGrant Elston kicks the game winning extra point with just over a  minute left in the game.  (photo by Eudorareporter.com Photojournalist Julie Stewart)

Many thought the game was over with only 7:07 left in the game but the Cardinals once again did not fold.  The Cards made progress in the running game on the following series including a 46 yard run by J.T. Howell and took the ball all the way down to the SFT 16 yard line. Santa Fe Trail stymied the Cards at the 16 and took over on downs, but promptly went 3 and out and punted the ball back to Eudora who took over at the SFT 44.  Elston and Howell combined to run the ball back down the field and Elston tied the game up once again with 1:28 left when he  scored from one yard out. While their may have not been many fans in the stands, those that were in attendance held their breath as Elston made the point after to give the Cards the lead and the win.

Following the game, Eudora Head Coach Kevin Kopecky was asked about the lack of ability to tackle on the defensive side of the ball.

“We’ve had a hard time all year,” Kopecky said. “Honestly we’ve got to get this fixed or we are not going very far. We’ve got a lot of hitches on defense and I’m not trying to call those guys out or throw anyone under the bus, but we’ve got to get better on defense.”

The Cardinals will face a key challenge next week. Friday night, the Ottawa Cyclones come to town for Cardinal Senior night.  Ottawa is 3-4 on the season and 0-1 in the District after a 61-0 loss at the hands of the Baldwin City Bulldogs.  A win by the Cardinals would guarantee at least second place in the district and a trip to the playoffs.  The top two finishers in the district will head to the playoffs.

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