Piper punched its ticket to the Kansas Class 4A sectionals Saturday, holding off a furious fourth-quarter rally by Spring Hill to post a 20-14 regional victory.
Two third-quarter touchdowns proved crucial for the Pirates, 7-4 on the season, who faced a 7-6 deficit at halftime.
“We were moving the ball well in the first half, but just weren’t scoring,” Piper Coach Chris Brindle said. “I told them to keep doing what we were doing, but put it in the end zone.”
Piper began the second half by moving 75 yards in 11 plays to score the go-ahead touchdown, with the Pirates’ 6-3, 244-pound running back/linebacker Collin Beebe carrying most of the load.
He had three carries for 55 yards in the drive. But Beebe was injured on a 5-yard pass reception from senior quarterback Tanner Eikenbary.
“He said that he could play defense,” Brindle said. “He said he just twisted his knee some.”
On fourth and 2, Eikenbary flipped a pass into the right flat to junior running back Travon Jones for a 5-yard touchdown with 7:44 left in the third quarter.
The two-point conversion gave Piper a 14-7 lead.
When the Broncos couldn’t make a first down on their next possession, Piper moved 56 yards in nine plays for another TD.
On first and goal from the 6, Eikenbary handled a bad snap and raced into the end zone around left end with 2:34 left in the quarter.
But Spring Hill made Piper sweat in the fourth quarter.
Facing a fourth and 10 at the Piper 23, several players raced on the field and several raced off. But junior running back Charles Elam didn’t leave the field.
The snap for an apparent field goal attempt went to senior quarterback Trevor Cluck. He found Elam all alone on the right sideline for a touchdown. The placement by senior kicker Brad Bink made it 20-14 with 3:55 left in the game.
The Broncos got the ball again with 1:35 left, but Jones intercepted a pass on the second play to effectively end the threat.