Eudora overcomes slow start to down Piper

By Brian Spano PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: September 1, 2012 - 12:34 AM

As the curtain went up on the Kansas high school football season Friday night, the rain came down…and down and down. Oh yeah, and the wind blew.
But the remnants of Hurricane Isaac parked over the Midwest did nothing to dampen the spirits of the Eudora faithful as their Cardinals triumphed in the opening game of the season 25-7 over Piper in a Class 4A showdown.
After spotting the Pirates, 0-1, the first seven points of the game, the Cardinals went on to score the next 25, but it wasn’t until the second half that the game really turned in Eudora’s favor.
“We weren’t very good,” said Eudora head coach Gregg Webb, “but we made just enough plays to stay in the game.”
Was it first-game jitters, the weather, playing a really good opponent that contributed to Eudora’s slow start?
“They’re afraid of Coach Webb,” Webb said with a wry smile. “When a 16-, 17,- 18- year old kid gets out there on that first play, his mind is aaagghh! We got that out of the way, now we can get on and get into the meat of our schedule.”
Piper scored on its first drive of the game. Taking over at the Eudora 37-yard line, it appeared the Pirates were on their way to a quick three-and-out, but on fourth-and-seven from the 34, head coach Chris Brindle elected to go for it on a gutsy call.
Senior running back Paul Jones bulled his way for 14 yards to the Cardinals’ 20-yard line for the first down. Two plays later, he was in the end zone for the score and the 7-0 lead.
Eudora, 1-0, answered after recovering at the Piper 21-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, senior running back Gabe Cleveland, who finished the night with 165 yards rushing, rumbled 21 yards for the touchdown. The score was 7-6 at the half.
“It means a lot that that’s how people see this role of me on this football team which is awesome,” Cleveland said of his role as the go-to guy. “I love this football team. I’m just doing my job. I’m just doing what the coach tells me to.”
To start the second half, Eudora had the ball at its own 25. Just three plays into the half, quarterback Andrew Ballock coughed it up, and the Pirates enjoyed a short field again with an opportunity to take control of the ballgame as the rain and wind began to intensify.
Piper quarterback Tanner Eikenbary marched the offense all the way to the 1-yard line, but a false start move the Pirates back to the six for a third down play. Matt McDonald ran for three yards, and it was fourth down again. This time, the Pirates were unable to convert as an Eikenbary pass fell incomplete.
Ballock orchestrated a 97-yard drive keyed by a 46-yard pass to Noah Pfeifer and capped by a Ballock to Nick Becker 22-yard strike.
“There were a couple of huge plays,” Webb said. “They get down to the one, and it would have made it 14-6, but the quarterback jumps offsides, and it makes it third and six, and we stop them. That was huge. They put that in, they have life, and the whole halftime speech goes down the drain. Somehow, we stopped them.”
The Cardinals had trouble with extra points early on in the contest missing after the first two touchdowns. They opted to go for two-point conversions on their next two scores, but on their final touchdown, senior Garrett Vaughn came on to kick. He made it, but it was costly. After his follow through, a Piper defender came through and his helmet struck Vaughn’s leg breaking the tibia and fibula. The game was delayed approximately 30 minutes as ambulance personnel tended to him.