Bobcats rally past Pirates for district, KVL titles
Murphy’s TD catch helps BLHS squeak past Piper
Kansas City, Kan. Basehor-Linwood wide receiver Colin Murphy watched the football stick to his hands and landed with his feet in the end zone.
Murphy came up cheering as the referee signaled a touchdown, giving the Bobcats a 13-12 lead against Piper.
“Brandon (Leppke) threw it, and I went up and got it,” Murphy said. “You don’t even know how good it feels. Words can’t describe it.”
Murphy, as he has done throughout his young career, stepped up and made a pivotal catch for the Bobcats at a critical time.
“You give your best kids a chance to make the play,” BLHS coach Steve Hopkins said. “Our offensive line blocked well on the play and everyone did their job.”
The Bobcats threw for the 2-point conversion and led 15-12.
Piper got the ball back at its 40-yard line after an onside kick. With little time left on the clock, PHS quarterback Jasper Sanders threw a pass to the end zone that fell incomplete as Nathan Quigley defended it.
With the victory, the Bobcats improved to 8-1 overall this season and 7-1 in the Kaw Valley League. They tied the school record for wins in a season, clinched a share of the KVL championship and won the Class 4A District 2 title.
Not bad for a Thursday night’s work.
The two fourth-quarter drives capped an exciting final 12 minutes. Earlier in the quarter, Piper took possession at the 48-yard line after Basehor-Linwood failed to convert on fourth down.
The Bobcats went for it on fourth down because they didn’t want to put the ball back in the hands of the elusive Sanders, Hopkins said.
With the football and trailing 7-6, Piper began to navigate the field and scored on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Sanders to Dylan Hays. The Pirates failed to convert the 2-point conversion and led 12-7 before Basehor-Linwood mounted its game-winning drive.
While the bulk of the drama took place in the fourth quarter, the first three weren’t bad, either.
Entering the contest, the game was billed as a showdown between two top teams and two of the area’s top quarterbacks, Leppke and Sanders.
The players didn’t disappoint, leading their teams on offense and carrying the ball on most plays.
Leppke had 219 yards rushing and Sanders ran for 191. Leppke also threw for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
Sanders struck first with a 60-yard touchdown run on the third play from scrimmage. The extra point attempt failed.
Basehor-Linwood drove the football deep into Piper territory on its next possession, but the drive stalled when Leppke was intercepted by Piper’s Russ Robinson.
Neither team scored the rest of the quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, Piper took possession at the 15-yard-line. Sanders rushed the ball and broke into the open field. He looked like he would make one more cut and score, but he was tripped up by Quigley who managed to get a grasp of Sanders’ shoe and drag him to the ground.
The tackle saved a touchdown and allowed the Bobcats to regroup. The drive stalled shortly after the play.
“Nathan Quigley’s tackle was phenomenal,” Hopkins said. “If he does not make that play, then it is a totally different game.”
With the ball and less than two minutes to play in the half, Basehor-Linwood opened up the passing game. Leppke completed all four of his passes on the drive for 68 yards. He connected with Cole Bittel for a 22-yard touchdown pass late in the half. Bobby Courtney made the extra point. The Bobcats led 7-6 at halftime and went on to win the game.
The victory lifted Basehor-Linwood into the Class 4A state playoffs. The Bobcats earned a first-round game Tuesday, Nov. 3, against Jefferson County West (6-3).