After beating Meade in the regional round last week, the Ell-Saline Cardinals were back in action Friday night hosting the Hoxie Indians in the sectional round of the Class 8-man DI football playoffs. It was a back-and-forth affair that would ultimately come down to a missed 2-point conversion by Hoxie and Ell-Saline would advance with a 44-42 victory.
Both teams would come into the matchup with a 9-1 record and both teams’ losses coming early in the season.
Ell-Saline would strike first with 4:38 left in the 1st quarter as quarterback Marshall Johnson would find tight end Trey Williams for an 8-yard touchdown and the Cardinals would lead 6-0 after one quarter of play.
The Cardinals would get things going early in the 2nd quarter as running back Joe Hiechel would go 77-yards to paydirt with 10:55 remaining until halftime and the Cardinals led 14-0.
The Indians would answer with 14 unanswered points of their own as quarterback Duncan Bell would find running back Brayden Sheetz with a 43-yard touchdown pass and then Bell would then use his legs from 10-yards out to even things up at 14 apiece.
With 3 seconds left and a 4th and goal from the 1-yard line Marshall Johnson would punch it in from one yard out and Ell-Saline would take a 22-14 lead into the locker room.
Hoxie would score the only touchdown in the 3rd quarter as Bell would find wide receiver Isaac Diercks with a 19-yard pass and things were knotted up at 22.
The Indians would take their first lead of the ballgame with 11:51 left in the game as running back Jonathan Mader would rumble his way in from 48 yards out and Hoxie would lead 30-22.
Ell-Saline would answer quickly as Johnson would find Trey Williams for their second touchdown connection of the evening from 19-yards and they were all tied up at 30.
The next Indians possession on a 3rd and 24 play Bell would find Mader and he would bounce off tackles on his way into the endzone and the Indians were back on top.
Ell-Saline would answer with a big 52-yard touchdown pass of their own as Marshall Johnson would find wide receiver Kas Kramer on a little slant route that Kramer would take to the house. Ell-Saline would convert their 2-point conversion and lead 38-36
With 3:07 left in the Ell-Saline would add on one more touchdown as Marshall Johnson would scamper in untouched from 45-yards out to give the Cardinals an 8-point lead.
It would take less than a minute for Hoxie to answer on a 29-yard touchdown run by Duncan Bell but ultimately Hoxie would fail to convert the 2-point conversion and Ell-Saline would run out the final 2 minutes on the clock and go onto win 44-42.
With the win Ell-Saline moves to 10-1 on the season and will play Wichita County in Leoti next Friday in the sub-state semifinal round of the 8-Man DI playoffs. The winner of that game will advance to the State Championship game in Newton.
Hoxie would finish the season with an 9-2 record with the loss.
Nex-Tech Wireless Player of the Game: Trey Williams and Marshall Johnson
H&R Block of the Game: Hunter Holmgren
Hoxie – 0 – 14 – 8 – 20 / 42
Ell-Saline – 6 – 16 – 0 – 22 / 44