Senior Gabe Cleveland on one of his many runs of the night. (Photo by eudorareporter.com Photojournalist Julie Stewart)
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The Eudora Cardinals took another step towards their quest of returning to the state championship by winning the Regional Championship game against the Tonganoxie Chieftans 31-10 Saturday night at Eudora District Stadium.
The Cardinals first half looked rather bleak as they were only able to put three points on the board early in the second quarter on a Grant Elston field goal. Tonganoxie, behind the passing game of junior quarterback Tyler Ford was able to find the end zone on a 46 yard pass to junior Shane Levy. A last second field goal gave Tonganoxie a 10-3 half time lead.
During halftime, Eudora Head Coach Gregg Webb made sure the team knew he was not pleased with their first half performance.
“I was kind of upset,” Webb said with a laugh after the game. “I told them this was the most frustrating bunch I’ve coached in a long long time.”
Webb made sure the team was ready for the next 24 minutes of football. the Cards methodically started moving the ball down the field in the third quarter mostly on a series of runs by senior Running Back Gabe Cleveland and junior Quarterback Andrew Ballock.
Eudora started putting points on the board midway through the third quarter when Ballock scored on a 13 yard touchdown run. the PAT was missed so the Cards will still down by a point. Late in the third, Eudora took the lead for good when Markis Hill scored on a 23 yard reception. Ballock called his own number on the two point conversion and scored to give the Cards a 17-10 heading to the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, Eudora kept pounding the football down the field, chewing up clock and finally added more points on the board with 4:43 left when Cleveland hit pay dirt on a two yard run. The nail in the Tonganoxie coffin came on the ensuing kickoff when the Chieftans fumbled on their own 10 yard line and junior Mason Tomlinson scooped it up to run it in for six.
Nick Becker #61 & Gabe Cleveland #7 sharing the hardware following the game. (Photo by Eudorareporter.com Photojournalist Julie Stewart)
While Eudora was victorious in the end, Webb was still not happy with the teams performance, particularly in the first half.
“I know it was a short week, but we go over things in detail and just the little things like where to run the ball and who to block. The little stupid things kill us.”
Next up for Eudora will be the Sectional playoff game on Friday night as the Cards travel to Louisburg for a 7:00 PM rematch of this season’s Week 2 game. Eudora won that meeting 21-20 at Eudora District Stadium.
“It will be a bloodbath. They’re good. It will be a knockdown headbanger,” Webb said. “It will be a very close physical game where the team that makes the fewest mistakes wins.”