MAIZE, Kan. On the coldest day of the 2018 football season there were fireworks in Maize. The host Eagles held on in a wild finish to beat No. 3 seed Great Bend 28-21. Maize will face Wichita Northwest, which won a high-scoring contest against Bishop Carroll, in Friday's sub-state game.
Great Bend led 14-13 at the half and scooped up a Caleb Grill fumble on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. Three plays later, Panther junior Gage Fritz punched it in from five yards out to give the Panthers a 21-13 lead just 51 seconds in to the second half.
That set the stage for Great Bend's late comeback bid. After two Maize touchdowns and a 2-point conversion, the Eagles led 28-21 with 4:47 to play in the third quarter. After a series of big defensive plays and punts, the Panthers ultimately got the ball back with just 78 seconds left and 75 yards to go.
Great Bend senior Dalton Miller made a key catch and made it out of bounds to keep Panther hopes alive. Senior quarterback Koy Brack ran 17 yards to set Great Bend up at Eagle 7-yard line with time winding down.
Brack was headed toward the end zone when he was tackled inside the 5-yard line with some nine seconds left on the clock and running. The Panthers tried to line up for a final spike but officials waved off the effort.
Following the Fritz touchdown, Maize worked its way down the field where Grill found junior KJ Hampton for a 3-yard touchdown pass. A 2-point conversion tied the game at 21.Later in the third quarter, Eagle senior Deriq Doty pulled in an acrobatic catch on third down to set up Grill's 1-yard touchdown run to give Maize its first lead since a 10-7 score in the first half.
Early on, Great Bend missed two shots at the end zone on its first drive of the game. Maize answered on Grill's third-down pass to Hampton for an 80-yard completion and the first points of the night.
The Panthers countered on the next drive with two big passes from Brack. The first went 43 yards to Peyton Duvall. That set up Brack's 27-yard touchdown pass to junior Alex Schremmer.
Eagle senior Hunter Clark booted through field goals of 23 and 31 yards to keep Maize in the game early. Late in the second half, Schremmer went 24 yards on a pass from Brack for the 14-13 halftime score.
Brack finished his night with 317 yards on 21-of-39 passing with an interception and two touchdowns. He surpassed the 2,000-yard mark on the season. Schremmer caught 10 balls for 147 yards and two scores to reach 1,100 yards on the season. Fritz paced the Panther ground attack with 78 yards on 22 attempts.
Grill, who entered the night with better than 2,300 yards in the air, completed 11 of his 18 pass attempts for 239 yards. Seven Eagles had receptions on the night. Caden Cox ran the ball 24 times for 136 yards.