HOLTON — There wasn't any one play that Perry-Lecompton made in Friday night's Class 3A playoff game that was the difference-maker in its 35-21 win at Holton.
Instead, it simply boiled down to every time the Kaws needed to make a play, they did.
Offensively, Perry converted each of its first five possessions in the game into touchdowns, often converting on difficult downs and distances to either sustain a drive or cap it with a touchdown. Defensively, the Kaws came up with enough stops to keep Holton in catch-up mode the entire way.
It may not have been a completely perfect performance but it was close enough to avenge a 14-7 regular-season loss to Holton and send the Kaws into next week's Class 3A quarterfinals after two straight seasons of being bounced from the playoffs in the second round.
"I'm really proud of these guys and that's what we've been doing lately," Perry coach Mike Paramore said. "They've been finding ways to make plays. Plays we weren't making earlier in the year, they're finding ways to make them now and it's great to see that."
Perry-Lecompton (7-3) will play host to Prairie View (10-0) next Friday. The Buffaloes kept their undefeated season going in convincing fashion, routing Columbus 35-0.
Prairie View will bring a defense that has been stingy all season, allowing just 7 points per game. But with the way Perry picked apart a Holton defense that has been the Wildcats' strength for most of the season, Paramore has to feel good going into the matchup.
In the program, Perry quarterback is listed as William Welch. In and out of the pocket, the senior signal-caller was more like Billy the Kid, slinging bullet after bullet to a myriad of Kaw receivers as the Perry passing game was efficient and effective.
Welch completed passes to six different receivers and finished the game a tidy 18 of 22 for 207 yards and two touchdowns.
"They run a cover three and a tight man," Welch said of the Holton defense. "We knew we had man-beater routes and if they ran the cover three, we had a spot right away. ... I thought we could make a play when we wanted to. We've got great receivers and I don't think you could cover just one or two. We had everybody involved and our line stepped up at big times."
The Kaws' first drive pretty much set the tone. Welch hit tailback Thad Metcalfe for an 18-yard gain on a second-and-13 to get the drive going and finished the drive by hitting Hunter Hess for an 18-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-8 to give the Kaws a 7-0 lead.
On the Kaws' next drive, they converted third-and-9, third-and-7, got a 21-yard completion on a third-and-26 and converted a fourth-and-5 to set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Metcalfe.
And that's how the night went. Holton routinely put Perry in tough spots and Perry routinely made the plays to get out of them. For the game, Perry was 6 of 11 on third-down conversions and 4 of 4 on fourth-down conversions.
"They made a lot of great plays on offense," Holton coach Brooks Barta said. "It seemed like we had them in a lot of third and longs, fourth downs a few times and give them credit. They made some catches and throws. We knew we had to play aggressive and make some plays on defense and they did a better job than we did."
Holton answered Perry's initial touchdown with a 62-yard scoring run by Taygen Fletcher, though the Wildcats missed the extra-point kick to still trail 7-6. But outside of another 34-yard run by Fletcher in the second half, the Wildcat offense found the sledding tough against the Kaw defense.
Holton finished with 236 yards rushing on 44 attempts with 96 of it coming on two carries.
After Fletcher's score, Perry answered with Metcalfe's touchdown run and then finished the half with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Welch to Metcalfe, who was wide open in the flat after Welch was flushed from the pocket.
Perry opened the second half with another scoring drive, capped by Metcalfe's 1-yard plunge. After Holton got a 1-yard touchdown run from Konnor Tannahill, the Kaws responded with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Welch to Metcalfe, who finished with 178 total yards (119 rushing, 59 receiving).
"(Welch) has great composure in the pocket and is a good decision-maker," Paramore said. "We put a lot in his hands and deservedly so. Look what he did tonight."
Holton finally forced Perry to punt in the fourth quarter, but it was too late. The Wildcats got a late 8-yard touchdown pass from Kale Purcell to Jackson Gilliland, but Perry recovered the onside kick and fittingly ran out the clock by converting a fourth-down play.
Holton finished the season 7-3.
"We knew the team that played great was going to win this game because it was an evenly matched game," Barta said. "We've got a bunch of under-sized, hard-working, hard-playing kids and they've got absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. They represented our program and our school well and achieved more than most thought they would."
PERRY-LECOMPTON 35, HOLTON 21
Perry — Hess 18 pass from Welch (Gonzalez kick)
Holton — Fletcher 62 run (kick failed)
Perry — Metcalfe 4 run (Gonzalez kick)
Perry — Metcalfe 12 pass from Welch (Gonzalez kick)
Perry — Metcalfe 1 run (Gonzalez kick)
Holton — Tannahill 1 run (Fletcher run)
Perry — Metcalfe 7 pass from Welch (Gonzalez kick)
Holton — Gilliland 8 pass from Purcell (Ruiz kick)
Rushing — Perry-Lecompton: Metcalfe 27-119, Welch 6-13, Williams 1-2. Holton: Tannahill 13-42, Fletcher 10-114, Wright 6-22, Karn 9-60, Purcell 6-minus 2.
Passing — Perry-Lecompton: Welch 18-22-0, 207 yards. Holton: Purcell 4-6-0, 37 yards.
Receiving — Perry-Lecompton: Williams 4-39, Metcalfe 6-59, Hess 2-39, Stone 4-55, Roush 1-111, Quinlan 1-4. Holton: Watkins 3-29, Gilliland 1-8.