PITTSBURG — The St. Mary’s-Colgan High School football team punched its ticket to the state title game with a 15-12 win over Olpe on Friday at Hutchinson Field.
Trailing by three with six minutes remaining in regulation, the Eagles drove down to the Colgan 28-yard line before a pass to the end zone on fourth down fell incomplete, sealing the win for SMC.
“This feeling is surreal and I don’t know if it has completely set in yet,” SMC head coach Shawn Seematter said. “Our guys played lights out. We had our backs against the wall most of the night, but got stops when we needed them. That just shows the character of this group and how resilient they are. It’s an unreal feeling and I couldn’t be happier for the kids and the Colgan community.”
The Panthers picked up on their own 29 yard line and drove down the field in 14 plays, before scoring on a two-yard touchdown run by Max Wilson to go up 7-0 with six minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
An interception by Cal Marquardt following the touchdown kept the momentum going for Colgan, but a fumble by the Panthers three plays into the new drive gave the ball back to Ople on the SMC 34-yard line.
The Eagles capitalized on quality field position, as they worked their way down to the goal line and scored on a one-yard touchdown run by Kynden Robert with four minutes remaining in the first half.
SMC kept Olpe out of the end zone on the two-point conversion and took the one-point advantage into the locker room at halftime.
Ope received the opening kick of the second half and took six minutes off the clock with an 11-play scoring drive to go up 12-7.
The Eagles’ scoring drive was highlighted by a 23-yard pass from Colbren Hoelting to Damon Schmidt and was capped off with a 7-yard touchdown run by Blaine Hinrichs.
Colgan responded with a touchdown of its own, as Bryce Hutchins pushed into the end zone from one yard out before finding Jeremiah Buche in the corner of the end zone to complete the two-point conversion.
The 10-play, five-minute scoring drive gave the Panthers a 15-12 lead with a minute remaining in the third quarter.
A fumble by the Eagles in the following drive gave SMC the ball on its own 22-yard line with under nine minutes remaining in regulation, but Olpe’s defense forced the Panthers into a three-and-out.
With six minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles took over on their own 26-yard line and went down to SMC’s 28-yard line in 13 plays.
The Eagles moved the chains on fourth down once and on third down twice in their final drive, but the Panthers’ defense held strong deep in their own territory, as a deep throw to the end zone on fourth down was broken up by Whit Dungan to seal the win for SMC.
“They overcame a lot,” Seematter said. “We tell them all the time that football is a game of peaks and valleys. We made some mistakes here and there, but we stepped up and made plays when we needed.”
Colgan will take on Smith Center at 7 p.m. on Nov. 25 in the state championship game.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.