Paola completed another perfect regular season.
Jovanni Blackie rushed for 204 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Panthers (8-0) to a 49-7 victory over rival Louisburg.
Playing their first game as the no. 1 ranked team in Class 4A, Paola clinched the Frontier League championship and the East no. 1 seed in the Kansas state playoffs. The Panthers earned homefield advantage throughout the postseason for the second straight year. They finished the 2019 regular season 8-0, and won their first three playoff games before losing to eventual state champion Bishop Miege in a sub-state game.
Quarterback Garrett Williams lost a fumble on Paola’s second play from scrimmage. Otherwise, the Panthers were unstoppable Friday night.
On their second possession, the Panthers moved the ball 82 yards in nine plays. Blackie scored his first touchdown from five yards out. Kicker Ian Heid missed the extra point.
Louisburg advanced to the Paola 20 before surrendering the ball on downs. The Wildcats turned the ball over on downs five times.
In the second quarter, Williams gained 25 yards on a keeper to the Louisburg 26-yard line. Blackie capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. Williams completed a pass for the two-point conversion, and the Panthers led 14-0.
After forcing Louisburg to punt out of the endzone, Paola took over at midfield. Blackie burst 25 yards to the Louisburg 25. Later, he took a pitch from Williams and gained 12 yards to the one-yard line. Williams took it in on the next play, and the Panthers led 21-0 at the half.
Williams opened the third quarter with a read-option at the 50. He pulled the ball out of Fletcher Aude’s belly, broke a tackle at the Louisburg 44, and raced towards the far sideline before he was caught at the two-yard line. Aude scored on the next play for a 28-0 lead.
Louisburg’s Justin Collins gained 15 yards on a tough run to the Paola 21. Quarterback Weston Guettermann completed a pass to Konnor Vohs to the 13-yard line. On fourth-and-2, Collins was tackled for a three-yard loss by Paola’s Isaac Brakner.
Paola took over at its own 16. Blackie broke four tackles on a 32-yard run to the midfield. A few plays later with the ball on the Louisburg 37, Blackie came to a brief stop behind one of his offensive linemen. He accelerated, broke four more tackles and carried Vohs into the endzone for his third touchdown.
Then Louisburg turned it over on back-to-back possessions. Jackson Earlywine forced Collins to fumble, and Brock Pitzer recovered for Paola at the Wildcats’ 28. Williams scored on a three-yard keeper for a 42-0 fourth quarter lead. Williams rushed 14 times for 142 yards and a pair of scores.
Guettermann threw one across the middle intended for Jase Hovey. Paola’s Isaac Meyers stepped in front of Hovey, intercepted the pass, and returned it to the Louisburg 11. On second-and-goal from the one, Aude plowed ahead for his second touchdown.
Louisburg had one last chance to avoid the shutout. With the clock running, the Wildcats snapped the ball at their own 32. Benjamin Wiedenmann carried a handoff around the right end. He dodged a tackle at the 45, cut back to the middle of the field, and scored a 68-yard touchdown with 1:14 remaining. The Wildcats kicked the extra point, and time expired.
Paola will likely host 1-7 Ottawa next Friday night. The Panthers whipped the Cyclones 62-7 on September 18. Louisburg (4-4) will be the eighth seed in the East side of Class 4A.