Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
by John Schulz with Corey Thibodeaux, of The Lawrence Journal-World
For the first time in the history of the Eudora football program, the Cardinals will head to the state championship game. The Cardinals defeated the Paola Panthers 13 -10 at Eudora District Stadium on Friday evening.
From the first drive, the Cardinals did what the Cardinals do and ran the ball every play on an 11-play touchdown drive that took almost five minutes.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Panthers (11-2) fumbled the ball away and the Cardinals (12-1) set up for the next drive at the Paola 29. On the 15-yard line, they opted to go for it on fourth-and-eight and failed.
Paola returned the favor on its next drive and turned the ball over on downs, a questionable call considering the ball was on its own 23. With a second chance to go up two scores, Eudora fumbled the ball away a few plays later on the 17.
“I thought we blew it,” Coach Webb said.
The 7-0 score would remain until after halftime. On the second play from scrimmage, Paola’s Tanner Staats burst for a 64-yard touchdown. The Panthers broke the tie in the fourth quarter with a field goal and 11 minutes remaining.
The Cardinals got the ball and after converting a fourth-and-one instead of kicking for the tie, senior running back Chris Pyle found his opening.
“I cut it right up, broke a tackle, and the rest is history,” Pyle said.
His 20-yard touchdown run with 5:15 to go in the game would prove to be the difference in the game, even though a blocked extra point kept the game within a field goal.
The next couple of Panther drives were ruined by clutch sacks from Alex Whitten and Gregg Snell.
The Cardinals’ defense once again shut down the Panthers’ offense, which had averaged 40.8 points coming into Friday night. Eudora held Paola to 10 points the last time the two teams met, a 18-10 victory on Sept. 30.
After the game, Coach Webb talked about how he was excited to be heading to the State Championship with his players.
“I’m just so happy for the kids,” Webb said. “There such a great group of kids and their just so darn tough.”
The Cardinals now face Rose Hill High School next Saturday at Salina Central High School Stadium. Game time is set for 1:00 PM.