Conway Springs' season is over at 9-2.
The Conway Springs Cardinals will not be repeat champions. The title is up for grabs after Garden Plain came to CSHS and went home with a 33-28 victory in the Regional 3A Kansas High School Football Playoffs.
It was a slugfest, as usual when these teams meet up.
Garden Plain's Caleb Arnold, junior, put six on the board on the game's opening possession. The Owls had a 7-0 with 7:42 to go in the first.
Conway Springs dug deep in the playbook on the ensuing drive. They used a fake punt with Tanner Wood, senior, sweeping around the right side to keep their first drive alive. Later, deep in Owl territory, on third down the Cards fired a pass to the endzone which drew a pass interference penalty on GPHS.
The quarter would end with the Cards poised to score, down by seven. Shortly after the second quarter began, Wood was in for the first of his three rushing touchdowns on the night, this one was from six yards out. The game was knotted at seven.
On the next drive, Garden Plain's Denver Doyle, senior, busted out for a 44 yard score with 9:41 to go, the extra point attempt was missed, but the Owls lead 13-7.
The Cardinal faithful let out a collective gasp on the next drive, when Wood threw an ill-advised pass as he was being drug down, resulting in an interception. On the very next play, Cardinal fans were cheering as the Owls fumbled the ball right back to the home team.
That exchange was a key moment in the first half as Wood would run it in again from six yards at the end of the drive. Conway Springs had their only lead of the game, 14-13, with 6:29 left in the second.
As the clock was winding down on the half, Garden Plain was driving. The Owls were 2/3 passing on Saturday, both completeions went for touchdowns. The first was a strike from Arnold to Nick Schumacher, senior, from the 15-yard line with 14 seconds left before halftime.
At halftime, GPHS was ahead 21-14 after a two-point conversion.
The third quarter was very physical, the teams traded possessions. Garden Plain got a big stop on fourth down which would set them up for the lone score of the period. Arnold hit his second pass, a 26 yard touchdown to Doyle with 1:38 to go in the third.
Down, 27-14 to begin the fourth, Conway Springs began to make it interesting. After completing a couple of key passes, Wood scored his final rushing TD with 6:17 left in the contest, a three yard run. Making it a one possession game.
The Owls put, what looked to be a dagger in the Cards with 3:09 to go. Dylan Clark, senior, crossed the goal line from seven yards out, and put his team up 33-21.
But the Cardinals said "not so fast, my friend." On the next series, Wood connected with his brother, Travis Wood, sophomore, on a 67-yard bomb with 2:50 left in the contest.
The scoreboard read 33-28, CSHS attempted an onside kick, but Garden Plain recovered. The Cards' D was unable to stop the Owls from getting past the chains and eventually, the GPHS ran down the clock and ended their rival's season, just as Conway Springs ended theirs a season ago.
Garden Plain out-everythinged Conway Springs in this one. The Owls had 383 total yards of offense, to the Cardinals 269. Doyle finished with 204 yards on the ground with two total touchdowns. For Conway Springs, Wood carried the ball 33 times for 199 yards, three scores. He had 99 yards passing with one touchdown and one interception.
Garden Plain, 11-0, will be on the road to Scott City, 11-0, on Friday, Nov. 9. Conway Springs finishes its season 9-2, both losses coming at the hands of the Owls.