Wild ride

Kyle Palmer/PrepsKC

By Kyle Palmer PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: November 14, 2015 - 12:44 AM



When the final point sailed through the uprights, the Eudora players, cheerleaders, and fans streamed out onto the field at Basehor, euphoric, exhausted and also a bit relieved. The Cardinals had just outlasted a resilient Basehor-Linwood team 60-59 in double overtime to advance to the state semifinals against Bishop Miege.

“Wow, I don’t know what to say about it,” said senior quarterback Grant Elston, who kicked that game-clinching PAT. “We shouldn’t have been in that situation, but a ‘dub is a dub’.”

The Cardinals squandered a 19-point lead with less than five minutes to play in regulation. They survived not one, but two potential game-ending Basehor extra points. And they somehow got over a rough night of penalties that saw them accumulate 12 infractions for 125 yards and one player ejection.

“It’s not how you want to win or lose a game. Just a crazy back-and-forth game. Emotions were so high,” Eudora coach Phil Katzenmeier said. “In a lot of ways, it was probably one of our worst games of the year.”

If not for the superhuman efforts of both Elston and senior tailback Austin Downing, who knows where Eudora would have ended up. The backfield tandem combined for over 500 yards rushing. Elston carried the ball 29 times for 320 yards and three scores. Downing, no less impressive, totaled 15 carries for 192 yards and five touchdowns.

And it was still barely enough.

“This senior class—my class—we’ve always been fighters. We got down tonight, our backs were against the wall. We could have easily quit, but our coaches kept on us and we came through,” Downing said.

With about five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, though, that sentiment could easily have been applied to the other sideline. The Bobcats had floundered offensively in the first half and found themselves down 19 with just about 4:30 to go.

But then junior quarterback Justin Phillips found Nick Fisher in the back of the end zone, and the Bobcats found themselves within striking distance down 47-34.

Basehor quickly recovered an onside kick and on the very next offensive play, Phillips again heaved it towards the end zone and connected with a falling-down Jackson Brimblecom. A successful extra point made it 47-41.

“We had desperation. We started to wear them down in the secondary,” said Basehor coach Rod Stallbaumer. “They played a bit more passive and didn’t send as much pressure. We had to throw it and we have some talented guys who can make some plays.”

Phillips would end his remarkable night 27-of-43 for 352 yards through the air and six touchdown tosses (to four different receivers) to go with 57 yards rushing and a running score.

Both Brimblecom and Fisher finished with over 100 yards receiving.

With the down only a score, Eudora recovered the next onside kick in Basehor territory with just over four minutes to play. The Cardinals put together what, at the time, appeared to be a game-sealing drive, cobbling together seven plays and marching all the way down to the Bobcat two before turning it over on downs.

Basehor, down 47-41, had 98 yards to go with 1:21 on the clock and no timeouts.

Phillips conducted the drive of the season. Picking apart the Eudora secondary he blithely led the Bobcats down the field, working the sideline and snapping the ball with alacrity. He finished the drive 7-of-10 and hit a leaping Eric Scott in the end zone with the tying score with three seconds to spare.

But the Bobcats muffed the extra point. Overtime.

“Extremely proud of this group for fighting, kept plugging away. Very proud of the resiliency. But we had our chances. It’s very frustrating to not take advantage of those opportunities,” Stallbaumer said.

Downing scored for Eudora on the first play of the first overtime. But Basehor blocked the extra point.

On the matching possession in overtime, Phillips tied it with a six-yard toss to Brimblecom. On the cusp of victory again, Basehor missed yet another extra point.

In total, the teams would combine to miss five extra points, in addition to failing to convert two two-point conversion attempts.

In the second overtime, Basehor took the lead—its first since being up 14-7 back in the first quarter on an 82-yard pick-six by Scott—when Phillips scrambled out of trouble and found an open Jackson Sherley.

Having scrubbed two critical extra points already, Basehor opted for a two-point try and failed to convert.

Down 59-53, Eudora knew what they needed to do: score and secure the extra point.

“That comes down to senior leadership,” Katzenmeier said. “We’re not out on the field with them. All we can do is talk to them. They have to make the plays. And they eventually did.”

Elston, so integral to Eudora’s win, still looked a bit dumbfounded in the moments immediately afterwards, surround by grinning family and starry-eyed teammates.

“We’ve been working God knows how long for this moment. So win or lose, go out and play your hardest, that’s what we were thinking,” he said.

It’s a game—and an extra point—he’s likely to not soon forget.