Prairie Central ends Sabers playoff hopes.
Prairie Central pulled away a nail-biting victory at home in its last regular-season game by edging St. Thomas More 44-42.
It was a game of great import for both teams. For the Hawks, who recognized their seniors beforehand, a win would give a possibility for a home game in the playoffs in the opening round. For the Sabers, a win would put them in a position to earn a playoff spot.
Both teams went back and forth scoring on the first seven combined drives of the second half in this shootout. It was coming down to who scored last would win.
It would be Prairie Central that managed to pull away with the final score.
With nine minutes left to play, PC quarterback Collier Palmore ran in a 20-yard touchdown keeper to put the Hawks back in the lead 44-42.
They then managed to pull off the only defensive stop in the entire second half by stopping the Sabers on a fourth down close to the end zone with 5:02 left to play.
The Hawks were able to run the rest of the clock out, snagging the win to improve to 7-2.
PC head coach Kirk Brandenburg was pleased to come out with a win after a hard-fought battle against a good team. The battle began early.
The Hawks started the game off with a strong offensive possession. They drove the ball 25 yards culminating in a 2-yard touchdown run by Palmore. PC missed the two-point conversion but led 6-0 lead with 6:55 left in the first quarter.
The Sabers turned around and produced a starting drive of their own. STM hit the Hawks with a strong mix of pass and run plays, resulting in an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Bryson Lee to receiver Nick Twohey. Lee caused the defense many problems with his athletic ability on foot.
“That quarterback is one of the best athletes in the conference,” Brandenburg said of Lee. “I hope people can appreciate what that kid did out there tonight. He is an all-stater for sure.”
Lee had three rushing touchdowns and two passing TDs on the night.
STM got the ball soon after when Prairie Central lost the ball on a fumble. The Sabers took this drive into the second quarter where Lee would find the end zone for himself, this time on a 4-yard run. With the extra point good, the Sabers went up 14-6 with 10:40 left in the first half.
St. Thomas More recovered the ensuing kick on a designed onside try, giving the Sabers another chance to score before the half. However, they could not contain the defensive line of the Hawks, which recorded a couple of sacks on the possession.
Prairie Central got the ball back and decided to try a little passing game of its own. It would prove successful as Palmore found Wyatt Steidinger for a 42-yard touchdown play. The Hawks missed the two-point again, leaving them two points shy of a tie game at 14-12.
With their next possession, the Sabers managed to run some time off the clock but couldn’t find the end zone, giving the ball back to PC with 2:17 left in the second quarter.
PC went back to the passing game and it paid off. Palmore completed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Corban Moser to put the Hawks up 18-14 going into halftime.
The second half was back and fourth battle of offense. Neither defense could find the answer to stop the other team from scoring.
Lee returned the kick for a 72-yard touchdown to open the half.
PC wasted no time getting the score back. The Hawks marched 55 yards down the field, ending with a 5-yard touchdown run by Connor Casner. They missed the two-point conversion putting them back up 24-21 with 8:32 left in the third period.
Prairie Central still could not find an answer on defense for Lee. On the next drive Lee found Eivory Shellman on a 52-yard monster of a pass for a touchdown.
St. Thomas More still couldn’t find an answer for the Hawks. On PC’s next drive history was made as Steidinger broke the schools all-time scoring record in a single season with a 2-yard run. The record had been previously been set his freshman year by Luke Sieving. This score also put the Hawks back up 32-28.
“We wanted to try and get Wyatt the school scoring record tonight and he did it,” Brandenburg said. “I am really proud of his effort. He is a pretty good ball player, he’s pretty special.”
Palmore led the Hawks with 168 yards rushing and 100 yards passing with 2 passing and 2 rushing touchdowns.
Prairie Central will now wait to see if it will be in Class 3A or 4A, and who the opponent will be and where next weekend.