East Buchanan can't hold early lead

By Matt Gleaves The St. Joseph News-Press
Posted: November 21, 2011 - 8:30 AM

SHELBINA, Mo. — East Buchanan held all the momentum for the first quarter and a half in Saturday’s Class 1 semifinal at South Shelby High School.

Then the Cardinals threw something unexpected at the Bulldogs.

East Buchanan shut down South Shelby running back Shawn Bertrand up the middle of the defense, but the Cardinals discovered that with all the attention on the inside run, the outside sat wide open. South Shelby running back Austin Hall ran toss sweep after toss sweep to the outside of the Bulldogs defense in the second half, leading to East Buchanan’s demise.

The Bulldogs allowed four touchdowns in the second half to Hall on the outside runs, sinking East Buchanan’s hopes of a state title in South Shelby’s 39-26 win.

“(South Shelby) was so powerful running the ball inside that we just got locked in to playing inside,” East Buchanan coach Kevin Bryan said. “You have to give them credit; they did what they had to do and our kids couldn’t stop it.”

Playing in the semifinals for the first time since 2004, East Buchanan (12-2) saw its season come to an end just one week after toppling top-ranked Wellington-Napoleon.

South Shelby (10-4) advances to the Class 1 Show-Me Bowl for the first time since winning it all in 2006, following a semifinal victory against Gallatin. East Buchanan had won seven straight since losing to Class 2 Lawson in the regular season but the streak ended one game short of reaching the title game like the 2004 team.

In the loss, East Buchanan quarterback Cory Bower threw 30 times, but completed only 13 passes for 250 yards — 215 ocourtesy of senior Brandon McNeely’s 10 receptions.

Bower showed off his dual-threat capabilities, running for 131 yards on 17 carries. Much of the yardage was totaled in the first half before South Shelby shut down the Bulldogs’ inside-draw play that worked well for much of the first half.

Bower’s big plays weren’t limited to offense.

East Buchanan scored on each of its first three drives in the first half, and Bower and the defense forced a key turnover late in the second quarter. Up 18-7, Bower stripped the ball from Bertrand, who had broken away from the defense and was just 10 yards from closing the Cardinals within one score.

“(Bower) played great,” Bryan said. “He’s a stud athlete and athletes like him don’t come along very often."

East Buchanan couldn’t take advantage of the gift from Bertrand, who finished with 276 yards rushing.

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