Kearney battles past Park Hill South
By SJ Munoz PrepsKC staff writer
Each team had their will tested and when the dust settled, Kearney prevailed 42-21 over Park Hill South in the second round of the Class 5 Playoffs.
"The guys did a great job of riding the roller coaster and understanding you can't get your head down," Kearney head coach Greg Jones said. "They kept fighting and never gave into adversity. It was frustrating for a while and hats off to them (South), they did a good job. Overall I thought we played well in all phases tonight."
The defenses set the tone early and it wasn't until late in the first 12 minutes that either team was able to cash in offensively.
Kearney put up the first points with just over two minutes left in the first. A 35-yard pass from Austin Hinck to Dray Starzl made it 7-0, in favor of the Bulldogs.
The lead remained for Kearney into the second, but the Panthers evened it up quickly.
Less than two minutes into the second, Ronnie Bertelsmeyer dove into the end zone from 2 yards out to tie the game at 7.
South attempted a go-ahead field goal with under four minutes in the half, but the kick was no good and Kearney turned the tide soon after.
Just two plays after the missed field goal, Brock Broughton busted free for 69 yards and a TD to give the Bulldogs the 13-7 lead with 3:29 to go in the half.
The momentum would flip again as the Panthers went to their hurry-up offense with time winding down. Just 13 seconds were left on the clock when Carson Reid, who threw for 137 yards in the first half, hit Nick Griffith for a 27-yard touchdown and the 14-13 lead at halftime.
The back-and-forth action continued in the second half as the Bulldogs regained the lead.
Hinck delivered his second TD pass for 66 yards to Zack Davis. Kearney went for two and converted to take a 21-14 lead with 8:19 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs then pounced on the Panthers with a 20-yard pick-six from Cale Garrett to make it a 14-point lead (28-14).
The 15-point barrage from Kearney to start the second half gave the Bulldogs control as the second half wore on, but South wasn't going away easily.
With 9:07 left, Reid threw for his second score to Griffith and the Panthers were within seven (28-21).
Just eight seconds later, the South defense came up big as Zach Scott's INT set them up at the 46. The Panthers moved it to Kearney's 31, but on 4th-and-11 the Bulldogs got the stop and took over with under seven to play.
"It was incredible," said Jones. "That was a great, great stand because they score right there and now it's tied up. The kids did a great job. Our thought of the week has been focus, specifically the little things because they make big things happen. The kids were believing in and understand that."
Kearney salted away the win with two more Broughton touchdowns in the final 3:40 as they move on and run their record to 9-1 on the season.
The Panthers year ends at 6-5.
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