Panthers pull through

Phillipsburg didn’t look pretty last night, but the Panthers got the job done vs. Sacred Heart, prevailing 22-15 in double overtime in the first round of the Kansas State High School Activities Association Class 2-1A football state playoffs.

The Panthers came in 8-1, and some media sources had them ranked first in Class 2-1A. Sacred Heart was 4-4, and got in because it finished second in a district which included three teams with losing records. Nobody gave the Knights much of a chance, even though Sacred Heart and Phillipsburg played a close game in the 3A playoffs a year ago, with the Panthers prevailing 27-20 on a rainy night in Salina.

Nobody should have taken Sacred Heart lightly. It played a difficult schedule which included 3A playoff teams Beloit, Minneapolis and Southeast of Saline, and the Knights are coached by Bruce Graber, who enjoyed tremendous success during his 12-year tenure at Norton from 1994 through 2005. Most importantly, his Bluejay teams lost only once to Phillipsburg, and that was Graber’s last season.

Phillipsburg scored on the game’s first play from scrimmage when Stuart Lennemann swept right end and raced 60 yards to paydirt.

At least, appeared to score.

The touchdown was wiped out when a Panther was detected holding near the line of scrimmage. It would not be the last time Lennemann would have touchdown called back.

Neither team did much until late in the first half, when Phillipsburg drove to the game’s first touchdown, a 7-yard run by Lennemann with 1:18 to go before halftime.

Sacred Heart tied the game in the third quarter on a 3-yard touchdown by Cedric Salas.

In the fourth quarter, Phillipsburg appeared to regain the upper hand when Lennemann caught a pass from Sam Sage in the left flat and romped 13 yards to the end zone, but again, the score was wiped out by an illegal block in the back. The Panthers were stopped at the 4-yard line following the score, and neither side threatened for the remainder of regulation.

In 1971, Kansas was the first state to implement overtime for high school football. It consists of each team receiving a series from the 10-yard line. It continues back and forth in this manner until one team is ahead after each team has had an equal number of possessions. The defense can NOT score on a turnover.

I do not like the format, period. I especially do not like the idea of starting from the 10-yard line. It’s too tilted towards the offense. I’m not a fan of the NCAA format, either, which is basically the same as high school, with a few differences: the possessions start at the 25, the defense can score on a turnover, and starting with the third overtime, a team must attempt a 2-point conversion after scoring a touchdown. Some states, including Louisiana and Oregon, have adopted the 2-point conversion rule for overtime in their states.

Massachusetts and Texas use the college overtime format since those states largely play by NCAA rules, with a few modifications.

Prior to the implementation of overtime, ties were broken in all sorts of zany ways. That’s another post for another time.

Sacred Heart got the ball first in the first overtime, and it scored on second down on a 7-yard run by Salas. The Knights lined up as if they would kick the extra point, but instead,, the holder threw to Salas for the 2-point conversion.

The pressure was now on Phillipsburg. Not only did the Panthers have to score a touchdown, they had to add the 2-point conversion–a kick would do no good–and that would only get the game to a second overtime.

Lennemann was stuffed for a loss on first down. On second, Sage rolled right and found Nate Prewitt at the 4. Prewitt broke two tackles and powered his way into the end zone to set up the crucial conversion.

Sage kept right on the conversion and dove over a defender at the pylon. Conversion good. Second overtime ahead.

It took Phillipsburg one play to score. Lennemann took an option pitch around right end to paydirt. Jaron Kellerman kicked the extra point.

Sacred Heart’s Justin McCartney threw incomplete on first down of the Knights’ possessoin. The next play turned out to be their last of 2014.

Sage stepped in front of McCartney’s intended receiver to not only end the game, but post his third interception of the night. Phillipsburg 22, Sacred Heart 15.

The Panthers travel to Oakley Friday for the quarterfinals.

I’m out of here. Gotta get ready for the long trip to Minneola for Victoria’s game in Clark County.

About David

I am a sportswriter for a group of weekly newspapers in small towns across northern Kansas. I grew up in New Orleans, went to college at LSU and wandered in the wilderness until Hurricane Katrina finally put me on the path to my current job.

Posted on November 8, 2014, in KSHSAA, Phillipsburg HS and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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