Three times Conway Springs’ defensive unit faced key moments in the team’s showdown with district rival Garden Plain. All three times the defense held strong, highlighting Conway Springs’ 21-20 win over Garden Plain to take control at the start of Class 3A-District 10.
The two teams traded scores and spent halftime tied at 14 before Conway Springs’ first big defensive stand. Garden Plain faced fourth-and-7 on its own 42, and the Cardinals stopped quarterback Nate Pauly’s run to claim prime field position, setting up Conway Springs’ go-ahead touchdown on the next drive on the first play of the fourth quarter
Pauly responded with a 67-yard touchdown run on the Garden Plain’s next possession, and the Owls elected to try for a two-point conversion that would have given them the lead instead of a game-tying point-after attempt. Conway Springs defense again held as Pauly’s pass fell incomplete.
Conway Springs (6-1) failed to produce any more points, leaving the defense on the hook to preserve the lead. Garden Plain (6-1) marched 65 yards as time wound down in the fourth quarter, setting up a game-decided fourth-and-2 on the Conway Springs 12-yard line.
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Garden Plain, needing 2 yards for the first down, instead rolled Pauly out to the left for a pass to the end zone and the ball fell incomplete out of bounds, sealing the Conway Springs win.
“(Pauly) was probably going to have it in some way shape or form and our kids knew that,” Conway Springs coach Matt Biehler said. “I’m proud of the way our defensive backs also held their contain, because he didn’t have anybody to throw to, had to scramble and our pursuit got to him.”
Garden Plain had options to gain the 2 yards – Pauly topped the list with 147 rushing yards on the night and senior Marty Landwehr had 82 yards on 16 carries.
“I’m going to go back and relive this one,” Garden Plain coach Ken Dusenbury said. “Yeah, I’d like to have some of those plays back, but that didn’t cost us the game. Conway Springs went out and won this game tonight.”
The key defensive stand was the final effort in a night that saw the Conway Springs defense make some much-needed adjustments. The first half saw Garden Plain orchestrate a pair of 80-yard scoring drives that drained the clock and initially gave the visiting team the lead.
But Conway Springs’ offense countered with big plays. Trenton Jones ran from one 16-yard line to the other on a 76-yard sprint that set up a game-tying touchdown at the end of the first quarter.
Conway Springs briefly took the lead by holding Garden Plain to three-and-out, then getting a 48-yard touchdown run from quarterback Colton Terhune – his second score of the half.
Terhune finished with 101 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, while Jones added 133 yards on 20 carries.
GP – Pauly 8 run (kick failed)
CS – Terhune 7 run (kick failed)
CS – Terhune 48 run (Jones run)
GP – Pauly 21 run (Landwehr from Pauly)
CS – Akiu 1 run (Mies kick)
GP – Pauly 67 run (conversion failed)
Rushing – Garden Plain: Pauly 29-144, Landwehr 16-82, Dooley 7-25, Zoglmann 1-2. Conway Springs: Terhune 18-101, Akiu 3-6, Jones 20-133, Winter 5-33, Mercer 1-3, Denney 2-8.
Passing – Garden Plain: Pauly 2-5 35. Conway Springs: Terhune 1-3 36.
Receiving – Garden Plain: Landwehr 1-3, Ellis 1-36. Conway Springs: Denney 1-36.