Trey Sides completed a pair of game-changing touchdown passes to spark the Panthers past Hoisington 31-14 in Friday’s 2A football semifinal.
The Cardinals scored first and hung within 17-14 deep into the third quarter. The Panthers turned to their passing game to break the game open.
Hoisington started with a goal-line stand when Xavier Robinson tackled Nathan Moon. Wyatt Pedigo tackled Trey Sides to save a score. Holt Hanzlick and Kameron Schneweis sacked Trey Sides for a 4-yard loss.
“Our guys played hard and competed,” said Hoisington coach Zac Baird. “We got off blocks and made tackles. We played as physical as we have all year.”
It marked the second time in 19 playoff trips that the Cardinals lost in the state semifinals.
The Panthers (12-0) play Riley County (10-2) in the 2A state title game. They beat the Cardinals 51-21 in their first meeting.
“It didn’t end the way we wanted,” Baird said. “I was super proud of our guys and it was a great group to be around.”
The Cardinals (9-3) overcame three 10-yard penalties and converted an 80-yard scoring drive on Wyatt Pedigo’s 1-yard run to slice the Panthers’ lead to 17-14 starting the second half.
Xavier Robinson converted two key runs and Pedigo caught a 16-yard reception from Derek Boxberger on the 17-play drive that used 8:04 on the clock.
But the Panthers answered with a 60-yard scoring drive keyed by a trio of pass plays by Trey Sides, who escaped pressure and found Gross alone on the sideline for a 39-yard touchdown dash for a 24-14 lead. The Panthers (12-0) rushed for 261 yards and added 111 yards passing.
“Defensively, we couldn’t get off the field – give Phillipsburg credit for that,” Baird said.
The Panthers tackled Pedigo on fourth-and-2 and drove 61 yards for the clinching touchdown on Gross’ 4-yard run for a 31-14 lead.
The Panthers benefited from a pair of questionable pass interference calls – an offensive flag on Xavier Robinson on double coverage and a defensive call against Mason Haxton when it appeared receiver Ty Sides initiated contact. There were 16 flags thrown after halftime.
The Cardinals were hurt by flags on both sides of the football.
The physical Pedigo gained 140 hard-earned yards and Robinson 50 as the Cardinals rushed for 234 yards. Boxberger threw for 63 yards. Time-after-time Pedigo gained extra yards after contact.
“Phillipsburg is big and fast and play aggressive defensively,” Baird said. “Wyatt Pedigo ran the ball really hard. It was tough to get open and get big chunk plays. We ran out of steam. They make it tough on you.”
The Cardinals (9-3) scored first on Mason Haxton’s touchdown for a 7-0 lead. But the Panthers responded with 17 points.
Nathan Moore scored on a 68-yard run and Ty Sides caught a 22-yard TD strike. The state’s all-time leading scorer Jon Hunnacutt blocked a punt and converted a 27-yard field goal.
The Cardinals graduate five seniors – Xavier Robinson, Derek Boxberger, Braxton Donovan, Nic Long and Jason Bradley. The Cardinals return seven offensive and eight defensive starters.
“I’m super proud of all they’ve accomplished and the young men they’ve become,” Baird said. “If they want it bad behind, the tools are there to win a state championship.”
Hoisington 0 7 7 0 – 14
Phillipsburg 0 17 7 7 – 31
H—Mason Haxton 8 run (Braxton Donovan kick)—10:56
P—Nathan Moon 68 run (Jon Hunnacutt kick)—10:17
P—Hunnacutt 27 FG—6:46
P—Ty Sides 22 pass from Trey Sides (Hunnacutt kick)—2:15
H—Wyatt Pedigo 1 run (Donovan kick)—3:56
P—Treylan Gross 39 pass from Sides (Hunnacutt kick)—1:17
P—Gross 4 run (Hunnacutt kick)—5:14
RUSHING—H—57-234; Pedigo 30-140; Xavier Robinson 7-50; Donovan 7-40; Haxton 10-9; Joshua Ball 1-4; Derek Boxberger 2-(-8); P—35-261; Gross 16-110; Moon 5-89; Ellis 7-44; Tanner Ragsdale 2-12; Ty Sides 2-9; Trey Sides 2-(-2); team 1-(-1)
PASSING—H—Boxberger 5-6-0, 63; Pedigo 0-1-0; P—Sides 6-11-0, 111
RECEIVING—H—Pedigo 2-47; Donovan 3-16; P--Gross 1-39; Ty Sides 3-37; Austin Miller 1-12; Ellis 1-12; Moon 1-9