By BRETT MARSHALL
CONWAY SPRINGS — In 2008 and 2009, when the Scott City Beavers were in the Class 3A quarterfinal round of the state football playoffs, they suffered two heartbreaking losses, both of which came when Garden Plain and Wichita Collegiate scored winning touchdowns in the final minute.
On Saturday night at Shinn Field, the Conway Springs Cardinals (11-1) didn't wait that long to knock the Beavers (11-1) from the ranks of the unbeaten and send them home after a convincing 39-21 3A quarterfinal victory.
In fact, it took the Cardinals, winners of five state 3A tites since 2000 (2001-02-03-04-08) and runners-up in 2010, only one minute, 17 seconds and three plays to get on the scoreboard and begin the early romp when Cory Misak raced 44 yards.
A three-and-out by Scott City put Conway back in business, and this time the Cards only had to travel 44 yards after an 11-yard Beaver punt. The short drive took nine plays and Brian Doffing's 1-yard run upped the lead to 13-0 and there was still 5:58 to play in the opening quarter.
"I think maybe we got the big eyes and gave Conway's tradition a little too much credit," Scott City coach Glenn O'Neil said. "We built them up and respected them, which you want to do, but they jumped on us quick and we just didn't answer."
Conway Springs' bread-and-butter is its single-wing offense, which bases its effectiveness on deception and misdirection plays. The Beavers never had an answer for it as the Cardinals rolled up 410 rushing yards and never had to punt.
Two more second quarter scores by the Cards put them up 26-0. Misak, who finished with 165 yards, added a 1-yard TD run while Jordan Ast raced 29 yards for the other Conway score.
Forced to go to the air and virtually abandon its usually-reliable running game, the Beavers did finally get on the board late in the first half when Brett O'Neil scored on a 9-yard quarterback keeper around the right end. The big play of the drive was a 33-yard pass from O'Neil to Colborn Couchman. The two hooked up on the Beavers' successful 2-point conversion pass, leaving them down 26-8 at the break. The only time the Beavers stopped the rushing machine of the Cardinals was right before intermission where they faced a fourth-and-six but the clock ran out and the Redbirds didn't have to kick it away.
Scott City, which had won the coin toss to start the game and deferred to the second half, got the ball to start the third quarter. The junior O'Neil connected with Dalton Buehler for 33 yards and then found Braeden Robinson on a perfectly timed pass and catch for a 37-yard TD play. O'Neil's pass for two fell incomplete and with 10:26 to go in the third, the Beavers had finally drawn within range of the Cards.
That hope, though, was short-lived.
Less than three minutes and 58 yards later, the Cardinals were back in the end zone, this time on another 1-yard plunge by Doffing, who had 168 yards rushing for the game.
Still, the Beavers didn't go away. An 11-play drive did stall out but then Robinson intercepted a wobbly pass by Doffing at the Beavers' 47. O'Neil clicked with Buehler for 27 yards and Couchman for 21 before the senior running back bulled his way in from the one with 10:04 left in the game. O'Neil kicked the extra point, making it 33-21.
Conway then did what it had been doing successfully all game. Recovering an onside kick at their own 41, it took the Cards only four plays to score the final TD of the game when Doffing went in from six yards out. He had a 19-yard run and Misak a 25-yarder in the short drive.
"We weren't ready, we weren't prepared, I'm not sure how to explain it," said O'Neil, who had to go to the air for Scott City's offense to click. He finished the game 15-of-31 for 244 yards without an interception. "We just didn't come out excited and I don't know why. It will be a long trip home."
Coach O'Neil had expressed concerns about the size of Conway Springs' linemen and linebackers and his worry was borne out in the game.
The Beavers, who averaged more than 300 yards rushing this season, were limited to just 78 yards in 28 attempts.
"They just overpowered us," said the younger O'Neil. "They stopped our running game. They came out and hit us in the mouth and we didn't take it and respond."
Coach O'Neil said the Beavers didn't have an answer for the single-wing offense of the Cardinals.
"They attack and run downhill," O'Neil said. "What they run is different than the wing-T we see. They've got a lot of beef up front (averaging 235) and they've got big linebackers (6-4, 225 pounds) who can move. We just couldn't get anything going with the running game. We couldn't block their outside linebackers and get outside in space. We just never had the ability to stop them after we scored. We gave them short fields way too many times."
Scott City 0 8 6 7 -- 21
Conway Springs 13 13 7 6 -- 39
CS--Cory Misak 44 run (Levi Bond kick), 10:43.
CS--Brian Doffing 1 run (kick failed), 5:58.
CS--Misak 1 run (Bond kick), 9:08.
CS--Jordan Ast 29 run (run failed), 5:42.
SC--Brett O'Neil 9 run (Colborn Couchman pass from O'Neil), 2:00.
SC--Braeden Robinson 37 pass from O'Neil (pass failed), 10:26.
CS--Doffing 1 run (Bond kick), 7:36.
SC--Couchman 1 run (O'Neil kick), 10:04.
CS--Doffing 6 run (kick blocked), 8:22.
First downs 15 19
Rushes-yards 28-78 57-410
Passing yards 244 0
Passes 15-31-0 0-2-1
Fumbles-lost 2-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 4-25 3-27
Punts-avg. 3-29.9 0-0
Possession Time 21:03 26:57
RUSHING--Scott City: Buehler 11-49, O'Neil 3-3, Smith 3-7, Couchman 11-19; Conway Springs: Doffing 30-168, Cory Misak 19-165, Bodine 2-10, Ast 6-67.
PASSING--Scott City: O'Neil 15-31-0--244; Conway Springs: Doffing 0-1-1--0, Wood 0-1-0--0.
RECEIVING--Scott City: Buehler 5-83, Robinson 3-71, Couchman 3-54, Hess 2-25, Hayes 1-11; Conway Springs: None.