Eudora ends Louisburg's 14-game winning streak
By Dave Svoboda PrepsKC
EUDORA – Think back to November 2009.
Remember anything in specific? Louisburg Coach Gary Griffin remembers Nov. 13, 2009, very, very well.
Prior to Friday night in Eudora, that date was the last time his varsity Wildcats had lost a football game.
Again, prior to Friday night in Eudora.
The Cardinals were able to pull off in the 2011 season-opener for both schools what no team was able to achieve in 2010 against Griffin’s Wildcats – a victory, and a thrilling one at that.
Eudora’s 14-0 triumph was a physical battle that found Louisburg tested as they had not been since Bishop Miege ended the aforementioned 2009 season for the Wildcats.
For Eudora Coach Gregg Webb, the win was especially significant, given the opponent.
“They’re so fundamentally good year after year,” Webb said of the Wildcats. “You just never believe you’ve done enough.”
Indeed, despite dominating the opening three quarters physically, Eudora found itself up just 6-0 with just over eight minutes remaining in the game.
That’s when a series of three plays all but determined the final outcome.
Faced with a fourth and 13 at the Eudora 49, Louisburg gambled and went for it. Quarterback Nathan Goodwin found wideout Daniel O’Connor for a gutty 14-yard gain, with O’Connor dragging a Cardinal defender the final two yards for the first down.
One play later, the momentum – which now seemed firmly in the Louisburg camp – would shift right back to Eudora. Goodwin took another shot for O’Connor, this time at the goal line, and his pass was picked off by Eudora sophomore Andrew Ballock in the end zone for a touchback.
One play later, the game was, for all intents and purposes, over.
Senior tailback Chris Pyle took a handoff and darted through a tired Louisburg defense for an 80-yard touchdown and a 14-0 Cardinal lead. Louisburg would not again threaten.
“We throw the interception and then they pop a long run,” Griffin lamented. “When you play against a good team, you can’t afford to turn it over.”
That pattern of frustration offensively began early for Louisburg. In its six first half possessions, the Wildcats lost a fumble, failed on a fourth-and-one run, lost an interception, lost WR Chris Chase to a likely broken leg on a failed third-down pass attempt and were forced to punt, punted again, and threw an interception on the half’s final play.
And despite all of that, Eudora led just 6-0 at intermission.
“It was really a case of us staying healthy and cramp free,” Webb said of his Cardinals, who had several players playing both ways. “We were really worried about the fourth quarter and staying fresh.
“But we had a lot of kids who sucked it up and played hard.”
Where that tenacity showed up most was in the way Eudora held the best Wildcat offensive threat – tailback Garrett Griffin – in check for most of the night. The coach’s son took handoffs from Goodwin and direct snaps from center in an attempt to shake loose a big gain, but was basically bottled up by the swarming Cards.
“They did a good job of not letting him get into the open field,” Griffin said of the Eudora defense’s effort against his son.
Webb acknowledged that holding the younger Griffin down was a key. In fact, with just under three minutes left in the contest and the Wildcats facing desperation third and five from their own 35, Garrett Griffin was on the Louisburg sideline with his father, having left the field after being pounded by the Cardinals defense for no gain on the preceding play.
“I’m really proud of our defense,” Webb said. “The way we ran to the football was good to see.”
Another thing Webb liked seeing was the play of his son, senior quarterback Derek Webb, who connected with Ballock on a 14-yard scoring strike for the game’s first score, and who capped the victory with two tough runs in the game’s final two minutes.
Despite watching his team lose for the first time in nearly two years, Coach Griffin found reason for optimism nonetheless.
“It’s a long season,” he said. “They’re (Eudora) going to be one of the better teams we play.
“We’re going to keep our heads up and hope to be as physical as they are at the end of the year.”
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