Already dealt a tough blow to start district play a week ago, Garden Plain was staring down the possibility of two straight losses and the distinct possibility of missing out on the postseason despite a seven-win season.
Chaparral had already chipped away at the lead the Owls had built, and suddenly, the guests were on the doorstep, looking to tie Friday night’s matchup at Gard Field in the waning minutes.
Facing fourth and 4 at the Garden Plain 5, the Roadrunners handed it to their workhorse, Jacob Jenkins, who found a slim crack off the right side, but Garden Plain’s Nicholas Dooley and Nate Pauly each latched on and were able to bring him down short of the marker, helping to preserve a 22-14 victory for the Owls.
“We went into that play thinking, ‘We have to get this, and if we do, we’re going to win it,’ ” said Pauly, who also ran for 123 yards and all three of Garden Plain’s touchdowns. “We knew that if we could just grind it out and all come together, we could get the stop, and we did. That’s going to be a memory forever.”
That stop was the final play on a drive that started on Chaparral’s 9-yard line and took nearly eight minutes off the clock. Garden Plain took over with 2:50 left, and two first downs was all it needed to ice the victory and make for an interesting final week of the regular season.
Chaparral opened the contest with an impressive drive to suck whatever momentum came from Garden Plain’s senior day ceremony prior to kickoff. The Roadrunners covered 69 yards on 13 plays, capping it with a 1-yard plunge from quarterback Andrew Clark and slashing nearly six minutes off the clock, but it was the only sustained drive of the game until the fourth quarter.
Garden Plain picked up excellent field position thanks to being on top of an onsides kick attempt, and it didn’t take long for Nate Pauly to turn the pace of the game on its head, slipping around the left side and going 47 yards to tie it. The Owls converted the two-point attempt to go up 8-6, and held the lead the rest of the way.
“They came out and scored right off the bat, but we still knew we could stop them,” Garden Plain linebacker Dylan Gordon said. “We just needed to make those adjustments that we couldn’t make during the week, because we haven’t seen an offense as good as theirs.”
A Marty Landwehr interception early in the second quarter set Garden Plain up for their second score, and the Owls came out of the halftime break to roll 59 yards to make it a two-possession game.
With Conway Springs’ 34-12 victory over Cheney Friday night, the Owls will need to top Cheney and pull for a Conway Springs win over Chaparral in Week 9.
Wins by Garden Plain and Chaparral put the three teams in a tie at 2-1, turning it over to margin of victory for the tiebreaker, where Conway Springs sits at plus-22, Chaparral at plus-13 and Garden Plain at plus-7 after two weeks.
C—Clark 1 run (kick failed)
GP—N. Pauly 47 run (Landwehr pass from N. Pauly)
GP—N. Pauly 4 run (Larkin pass from N. Pauly)
GP—N. Pauly 8 run (pass failed)
C—Jenkins 5 run (Patterson pass from Clark)
Rushing—Chaparral, Jenkins 26-156, Clark 24-76, Overton 2-7, Patterson 2-10, Whealy 2-16. Garden Plain, N. Pauly 18-123, Dooley 9-42, M. Landwehr 12-39.
Passing— Chaparral, Clark 7-14-63-1. Garden Plain, N. Pauly 2-4-31-0.
Receiving— Chaparral, Pfaff 5-43, Patterson 2-20. Garden Plain, Wilson 1-22, M. Landwehr 1-9.