Varsity Kansas

Conway Springs' ground game trips up top-ranked Garden Plain

GARDEN PLAIN — When Conway Springs junior Cory Misak runs with the football tucked against his side, he’s hoping for that one block.

Just one block, it’s all he needs. Get him into open space and good luck catching him.

On his second carry Friday night, Misak got around the right side and sprinted 70 yards for the first of three touchdowns.

Misak finished with 173 rushing yards as he led Conway Springs to a 29-14 victory over Garden Plain, Class 3A’s top-ranked team. Conway Springs (4-0) is ranked third.

“That big run was a stabæ.æ.æ. it was a gut-wrencher,” Garden Plain coach Todd Puetz said.

“He’s pretty quick,” Conway Springs coach Matt Biehler said of Misak, who was on the Cardinals’ winning 400-meter relay team in May. “He does a good job of reading his blocks. He keeps on running. He looks like he’s going to get tackled, and he keeps his legs driving and gets extra yards.æ.æ.æ. He’s good on special teams, too.”

This matchup of top-ranked teams was far from flawless. There were penalties, turnovers and Garden Plain’s Braden Eck was ejected in the final minute.

Credit each team’s defense. Conway Springs had three straight shutouts, while Garden Plain had two.

“You can look good and execute on some plays, but they take it out on you, too,” Biehler said. “It’s good defense. We talked about defense, and both teams have a stellar one.”

Conway Springs had a 9-0 lead when Garden Plain snapped the football into the end zone on a punt, falling on it for a safety.

Garden Plain scored with 3:07 remaining in the first half on Joey Capul’s 2-yard run.

But when the Owls were forced to punt three minutes into the third period, the punt went directly to Misak at the 28 and he outraced everyone for the 72-yard touchdown.

It wasn’t all Misak, either. Conway Springs junior Brian Doffing finished with 102 rushing yards, and he had a big play, as well — at a key time.

Following a Conway Springs fumble, Capul cut the Cardinals’ lead to 16-14 with a 3-yard run and two-point conversion with 5:59 to go.

But Garden Plain’s defense couldn’t hold Conway Springs. Doffing, who ran the anchor leg on that 400 relay team, raced 43 yards around the left end to take the 22-14 lead.

“They were able to move the ball against us, and we were able to move it against them,” Puetz said. “It was two good teams playing each other.

“Unfortunately, we let big plays hit. We didn’t get the big play. I thought we drove the ball well, but we didn’t get the big play.”

Garden Plain had six plays that were in double digits, with the longest a 22-yard run by Kendrae Arnold.

The Owls still had a chance down eight with 2:35 to go, but multiple penalties pushed them back and they turned the ball over on downs at their own 21.

“We stuck ’em when we could,” Conway Springs senior Austin Pauly said. “.æ.æ. This is a very big victory. Everyone knew it would be a big game, and that’s exactly what it was. We came through big when we had to.”

Conway Springs (4-0) 9 0 7 13 — 29

Garden Plain (3-1) 0 6 0 8 — 14

CS—Misak 70 run (Harris kick)

CS—Safety, snap recovered in end zone

GP—Capul 2 run (miss kick)

CS—Misak 72 punt return (Harris kick)

GP—Capul 3 run (Capul run)

CS—Doffing 43 run (kick blocked)

CS—Misak 9 run (Harris kick

Individual Statistics

Rushing—Conway Springs, Misak 18-173, Doffing 19-102, Wood 9-13, Seiwert 1-2, Pauly 1-(-1). Garden Plain, Arnold 7-51, Hartshorn 9-37, Capul 15-37, Tomlinson 4-15, Jennings 2-5, Watson 2-2, Haukap 1-(-24).

Passing—Conway Springs, Wood 1-6-6-0, Pauly 0-2-0-0. Garden Plain, Tomlinson 7-19-55-0.

Receiving—Conway Springs, Pauly 1-6. Garden Plain, Kerschen 3-21, Sponsel 2-17, Arnold 1-10, Capul 1-2.

Conway Springs' Cory Misak

Conway Springs' Austin Pauly

Check out these little fans at Garden Plain. Too cute.

Cheering Garden Plain fans

Garden Plain students cheer during the Conway Springs game

The view atop the Garden Plain press box.

Inside the Garden Plain press box, which still has pieces of its old scoreboard decorating the walls.

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