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It took 26 hours to complete the game, but the Cardinals persevered and beat the Spring Hill Broncos 35-7 Saturday night at Eudora District Stadium.
A much smaller crowd returned to a much chillier stadium on Saturday night to watch the remaining three quarters of football after the game had been suspended on Friday night due to lightning.
Both teams seemed sluggish at the resumption of the contest with :32 left in the first quarter. The Cardinals had a 14-0 lead on two Grant Elston runs from the previous night. While both Spring Hill and Eudora moved the ball up and down the field in a few series of drives, neither team could put points on the board. The teams went to the locker room for halftime 15 minutes after they started play with the score still 14-0.
Following halftime, both teams realized that it was time to play football and got some offensive efforts going. The 2nd half opened with Spring Hill returning the opening kick off 44 yards. Then Spring Hill QB Ryker Johnson connected with TE Drew Cygan for a 37 yard pass which took the ball to the Eudora 7 yard line. A series of runs, allowed Johnson to sneak the ball in the end zone from about 1 foot out and the Broncos were on the board with 8:28 left in the 3rd. That would be the first and last time Spring Hill would see the end zone in the contest.
Eudora then turned it up a notch. On the ensuing kickoff, Grant Elston took it up the right side of the field for a 50 yard return. After a couple of running plays for 6 yards, QB Andrew Ballock hit WR Blake Jopp for a 30 yard pass that added another touchdown on the board to give the Cards a 21-7 lead. The Cards used up 89 seconds on the clock in the entire drive.
Unlike last weeks game against Paola, this week the Cardinals seemed to be able to stymie the up the middle running game Spring Hill attempted. “Bend but don’t break” was the way the Cards played all night. They allowed Spring Hill to move the ball, but would never let them get close to the end zone. With 3:56 left in the game, Mitchell Ballock intercepted Johnson’s pass on a 4th and 1 play and took it 53 yards for the pick 6. With the extra point, it gave the Cards a 28-7 lead.
Ballock was reading Spring Hill QB Johnson’s mind all night. This was his second interception of the game and had a couple of other attempts where he nearly came up with the ball.
“I saw the quarterback looking my way the whole time,” Ballock said following the game. When asked about the interception that led to the touchdown, Ballock pondered about taking a page from the Tony Gonzalez play book as he was all alone heading for the end zone.
“I was actually thinking about doing a dunk on the goal post as I was heading in, but I didn’t want coach to be mad,” Ballock said laughing.
Grant Elston put the icing on the cake late in the game, when he ran for his 3rd touchdown over the course of two nights with a 33 yard run with :40 left in the game.
Head Coach Kevin Kopecky was happy with his team putting one in the win column Saturday night, but still was frustrated by the teams play.
“Both teams had to come back and play basically starting over with the delay and we were not near as sharp as we should have been tonight,” Kopecky said. “We dropped some balls on offense, we were pretty flat and we still have some work to do.”
The Cardinals will now have just five days to prepare for St. James Academy. St. James is 3-2 on the season with wins over Bishop Ward (KC), Ottawa and Louisburg. In the last three meetings between St. James and Eudora, St. James has taken two out of three. The game will be played on Thursday night at the St. Thomas Aquinas High School Stadium at 11411 Pflumm Road in Overland Park. Game time is 7:00 PM.