Tanner Eikenbary completed 26 passes to seven different receivers for 293 yards Friday night but Piper fell a few big plays short of a win.
Paola got a road win in the Class 4A football semifinals with a 27-21 win over the Pirates.
Trailing by six points with just over two minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Piper took over at its own 29-yard line. On fourth down, Eikenbary’s pass to Travon Jones fell incomplete allowing the Panthers to take a knee for the win.
Paola jumped out to an early lead on an eight-play drive that was capped by a Luke Wilson field goal.
The Pirates first possession gained 45 yards on the ground to the Paola 35-yard line but on fourth-and-two, an errant snap pushed the Pirates back 20 yards and Colton Beebe had to punt.
Paola quarterback Andrew Henn led the Panthers on their second drive. Henn, Paola’s leading rusher, ran the ball four times on the drive for 47 yards and finished the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run making the score 10-0.
With 7 minutes left in the second quarter, the Pirates went to the air and started having success. Eikenbary completed a 17-yard pass to Jake Jones and a 25-yard pass to Nate Hays. A five-yard pass completion to Travon Jones set the Pirates up with third-and-one at the 14-yard line. Eikenbary then connected with Hays for a nine-yard touchdown.
Paola answered before halftime with a nine-yard drive that ended with a 33-yard touchdown run to take a 17-7 lead. Eikenbary led the Pirates to the 20-yard line, the big play coming on a 41-yard pass to Maverek Dearinger. With two seconds left, an Alex Bach field goal attempt was blocked ending the first half.
In the third quarter, Paola went up 24-7 on a 58-yard pass to Mitchell Sloan. The Pirates answered with a 12-play drive. Eikenbary completed a 23-yard touchdown pass to Travon Jones and the Pirates made the score 24-14.
Paola connected on a 30-yard field goal by Wilson to go 27-14. Both teams exchanged punts and Piper took over on the 50-yard line with six minutes left.
Eikenbary completed four passes before hitting Dion Saunders on a 33-yard touchdown pass.
Piper had 313 total yards for the game with 293 coming through the air. The Panthers were able to keep the Pirates run game in check as Eikenbary was the leading rusher with 17 yards.
Saunders caught five passes for 71 yards and Travon Jones caught seven for 56 yards. Dearinger caught two passes for 53 yards, Hays caught three for 43 yards and Beebe caught four for 35 yards.