For the third time since 2014, the Phillipsburg High School football team will play for a sub-state championship.
It certainly wasn’t easy Friday night at Conway Springs.
Treylan Gross’ fourth-quarter 2-yard touchdown run pushed the unbeaten Panthers to a 25-24 win over previously unbeaten Conway Springs and into the Class 2A semifinal round.
Gross’ score was the second of the night for the senior as Phillipsburg moved to 11-0 ahead of this week’s sub-state matchup against Hoisington (9-2), a team Phillipsburg already beat 51-21 this season.
The Panthers uncharacteristically turned the ball over twice against Conway Springs (10-1), with Trey Sides throwing an interception and Gross losing a fumble.
Conway Springs had a 6-0 lead before Gross’ first TD in the first quarter gave the Panthers the lead, but neither team gained more than the eight-point advantage Conway Springs had in the third quarter after a 63-yard scoring run by Zach Mercer.
However, Sides responded with a 43-yard scoring run that tied the game before Mercer again scored from 14 yards. However, the two-point conversion for Conway failed.
In the fourth quarter after Gross’ run, Jonathan Hunnacutt, the state’s all-time leading kick scorer, sealed the deal with his PAT. Earlier in the game, he had a 33-yard field goal as well.
Gross finished with 88 yards and 12 carries while Nathan Moon had 67 yards and 12 carries. Sides had nine carries for 45 yards and a score, and completed 3 of 10 passes for 51 yards. Cha’Ron Ellis had 42 yards on nine carries.
Plainville 29, Elkhart 13
PLAINVILLE — Plainville built up a 22-7 lead in the second quarter, then had to hold off a second-half rally attempt by previously unbeaten Elkhart to grab the win, sending the Cardinals into the sub-state round for the third straight season.
The Cardinals led 22-7 after quarterback Jordan Finnesy ran in his second rushing score with 55 seconds to play before halftime.
But Elkhart (10-1) came storming back in the third quarter as Lane Whisennand ran for 3 yards to make it 22-13 with 6:59 to play in the quarter.
Eventually Plainville thwarted off the comeback attempt when Finnesy his Jared Casey from 13 yards to put the game out of reach.
Finnesy finished with 119 passing yards and 100 rushing yards, while Whisennand had 125 rushing yards and 26 passing yards for the Wildcats.
Late in the fourth quarter with the game all but over, Whisennand took a hard block late and had to be taken off the field via ambulance.
Later in the evening, Plainville assistant coach Justin Casey posted on social media that Whisennand was doing better as the Cardinals went to visit him in the hospital.
Plainville will travel to Smith Center on Friday for a rematch of not only a Week 4 21-10 loss, but also last year’s 51-0 defeat in the sub-state title round at the hands of the Redmen.
Smith Center 61, Sedgwick 27
SEDGWICK — In the other west quarterfinal in Class 1A, Smith Center rolled to a 10-1 record and will play for a sub-state championship for the fourth straight season.
The Redmen posted 41 points by halftime on the road Friday and now have at least 35 points in the the last three contests — all blowouts. The 61 points, though, was a season-high while the 27 points is the most given up by the Redmen, save for a 42-14 loss to unbeaten Phillipsburg.
Eight-Man Division I
Central Plains 54, Hoxie 6
HOXIE — There will be a new champion in Eight-Man Division I, and after Friday night it very well could be Claflin-Central Plains. The Oilers’ run thus far has been nothing short of dominant. The Oilers did give up a touchdown for the first time since Week 2 of the season, but Hoxie didn’t have nearly enough.
The Indians ended their title defense season with a 9-2 mark.
The other west quarterfinal was scheduled for Saturday between Hodgeman County (9-1) and St. Francis (10-0) in St. Francis.