Varsity Kansas

Kapaun tops McPherson in thriller

Kapaun Mount Carmel quarterback Nathan Degenhardt expected to still be awake in the wee hours this morning, recounting everything that happened in Friday’s 32-31 come-from-behind victory over McPherson in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.

“I can’t even process it right now,” said Degenhardt, whose team will play at Hutchinson in the second round of the playoffs on Nov. 11. “I’ll be laying in bed until 3 a.m., replaying it in my mind.”

Coach Dan Adelhardt probably will, too. Despite seven straight playoff berths, this is Kapaun’s second postseason win in that span.

And Kapaun (8-2) got the win in thrilling fashion, scoring twice in the final 1:54.

“You did exactly what you’ve got to do,” Adelhardt told his team in the postgame huddle. “You have to play two halves of football.

“You never know if it’s that play. (Patrick) Burrus recovering an onside kick, someone getting a knockdown, someone getting a sack. You never know.

“You add up all those together, that’s what happens.”

Adelhardt pointed to the Cessna Stadium scoreboard.

“You live to play tomorrow,” he said.

Kapaun had plenty of struggles against McPherson. They had six plays near the goal line in the third quarter and turned it over on downs because of two penalties and a sack.

While driving in the second quarter, Degenhardt was intercepted by Alex Bahr at the McPherson 18.

Defensively, Kapaun struggled to stop McPherson quarterback Tyler Matthews, who was 20-for-32 passing for 385 yards and four touchdowns. Jordan Hart had 11 receptions for 202 yards.

Kapaun’s second half was impressive, though.

The Crusaders held McPherson scoreless in the fourth quarter and to minus-two yards — including a sack on the final drive — before Matthews had two completions for 34 yards in the final 20 seconds.

“We couldn’t run the ball, that hurt us,” McPherson coach Tom Young said. “We couldn’t run the clock.”

“We got pressure on them,” Kapaun senior Jack Martin said. “Our defensive line made some great sacks. We stopped their run game in the fourth quarter, made some plays.”

It wasn’t just defense, either.

Kapaun senior Michael Martin returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown.

Down by 19, Degenhardt hit Nick Cook on a 28-yard pass as time expired in the third quarter.

Degenhardt finished with 191 passing yards, 172 in the second half. He also had 135 rushing yards, 122 in the first half.

Degenhardt found Jack Martin for a seven-yard touchdown pass with 1:54 remaining.

Kapaun tried an onside kick for the second time — and recovered it again.

“They executed them really well,” Young said.

Kapaun’s final drive resulted in a 13-yard touchdown pass to Martin, on fourth down, with 34.3 seconds to go.

Yeah, Degenhardt will relive that a few times.

“That last drive,” Degenhardt said, shaking his head. “It was just a great finish.æ.æ.æ. That’s just guys making plays. Middle of the fourth quarter, I thought we were out of it. But we all fought back. It’s an unbelievable finish, great plays by our guys.”

McPherson (7-3) 7 17 7 0 — 31

Kapaun Mount Carmel (8-2) 6 0 12 14 — 32

M—Cape 32 pass from Matthews (Vedvik kick)

KMC—Martin 14 run (miss kick)

M—Vedvik 20 FG

M—Hart 72 pass from Matthews (Vedvik kick)

M—Cape 24 pass from Matthews (Vedvik kick)

KMC—M. Martin 66 punt return (miss kick)

M—O’Bannon 54 pass from Matthews (Vedvik kick)

KMC—Cook 28 pass from Degenhardt (run failed)

KMC—J. Martin 7 pass from Degenhardt (Griffith kick)

KMC—J. Martin 13 pass from Degenhardt (Griffith kick)

Individual Statistics

Rushing—McPherson, O’Bannon 20-52, Clark 1-4, Matthews 5-(-4). Kapaun, Degenhardt 19-135, Bean 11-39, M. Martin 1-30, J. Martin 1-14, Heiland 2-12.

Passing—McPherson, Matthews 20-32-385-0. Kapaun, Degenhardt 15-29-191-1, Root 0-1-0-0.

Receiving—McPherson, Hart 11-202, Cape 5-114, O’Bannon 2-51, Clark 1-12, Bahr 1-6. Kapaun, Cook 6-85, Griffith 3-53, J. Martin 3-51, Heiland 1-6, Bean 1-(-4).