Blake Sullivan spent another second half on Goddard’s sideline Friday night, watching his teammates complete the next step in the Class 5A football playoffs.
But unlike the Lions’ 58-point victory over Andover last week, which featured countless good vibes for Goddard’s quarterback, Sullivan was in street clothes after injuring his left shoulder against rival Eisenhower.
No. 1 Goddard continued its march toward a second consecutive 5A title game with a 28-13 quarterfinal victory. But as the Lions enter next week preparing for a postseason rematch with Bishop Carroll (10-1) in next Friday’s semifinals, they’ll do so with concerns about the health of their senior leader.
“He’s got a bad shoulder and it comes in and out,” Goddard coach Scott Vang said. “I would guess he’s going to try to play next week. But we’ll make that decision with his folks and the doctors probably Wednesday or Thursday.”
Indeed, Goddard has been through this before with Sullivan, who separated the shoulder in a regular-season game against Arkansas City. He missed the following week’s contest with Valley Center as freshman Kyler Semrad took over.
On Friday, Semrad connected with senior Owen Beason on a pair of touchdown passes that helped Goddard end Eisenhower’s season at 5-6.
“We all had to step up,” said Beason, who caught an 11-yard fade from Semrad that staked Goddard to a 21-7 halftime lead, then hauled in an 18-yard on a fourth-and-17 play late in the third quarter for the Lions’ final touchdown. “Kyler’s a great quarterback and he’s going to be great in the future.”
Semrad got support from junior running back Ben Bannister, who gained 160 yards on 19 carries. Bannister fumbled on his longest run of the game, but sophomore Kaeden Hoefer scooped up the football and completed the 42-yard touchdown that gave Goddard its first lead at 14-7 in the second quarter.
The Lions, who blistered Andover with a 36-point first quarter in a 65-7 second-round victory, quickly fell behind after Eisenhower marched 99 yards on its opening drive. Senior Justis Moore’s 47-yard run put the Tigers in the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
It was a stark contrast to the teams’ regular-season meeting, which Goddard won 20-3.
“It was a rivalry game,” Vang said. “It was a big grind. Their offense slows everything down a little bit.
“We didn’t execute well early and they played really, really well.”
After Sullivan pinned Eisenhower at its own 2 with a punt early in the second quarter, Goddard seized momentum. The Lions crashed through on a blitz and forced Moore to fumble. Goddard’s Cole Caraway recovered the ball in the end zone, and Gentry Cole’s extra point tied the score at 7.
“It’s kind of hard having to go 99 yards for a touchdown every single time,” said Eisenhower quarterback Ty Trudo, who ran for 97 yards on 16 attempts. “Blake did a good job with his punts.
“On the fumble, it was just a miscommunication on my part.”
It was Eisenhower’s second turnover of the first half, and it fueled Goddard’s 21-point second quarter. While Goddard only outgained the Tigers 366-328, Eisenhower didn’t score again until Moore hit Tanner King on a 15-yard jump pass in the game’s final minute.
Eisenhower, which started the season 0-5, had a five-game winning streak ended.
“They’re very good, first and foremost,” Eisenhower coach Marc Marinelli said. “There’s a reason Goddard’s undefeated and there’s a reason they’re the No. 1 team in the state.
“We did pick some things up early and picked some things up late. We just weren’t able to punch it in a couple times.”
Vang acknowledged the oddity of playing a rivalry game in the postseason. Goddard was whistled for several penalties, adding to the challenge of its latest victory. Next up is Carroll, which the Lions defeated 20-12 in last year’s 5A playoffs in a landmark game for Goddard’s program.
“Everybody wants to win this time of year,” Vang said. “This was a crosstown rival and we’ve kind of had their number. They wanted to get after it and they played well. Coach Marinelli had them ready to go.”
Eisenhower (5-6) 7 0 0 6 – 13
Goddard (11-0) 0 21 7 0 – 28
E—Moore 47 run (Abel kick)
G—Caraway fumble recovery in end zone (Cole kick)
G—Hoefer 2 fumble recovery (Cole kick)
G—Beason 11 pass from Semrad (Cole kick)
G—Beason 18 pass from Semrad (Cole kick)
E—King 15 pass from Moore (kick failed)
Rushing—Eisenhower, Trudo 16-97, Moore 9-74, Golden 8-29, MacKinnon 4-10, Omli 1-7, Mackey 2-2. Goddard, Bannister 19-160, True 4-36, Semrad 6-16, Sullivan 9-15, Hoefer 6-14.
Passing—Eisenhower, Trudo 5-14-0-58, Mackey 1-1-0-36, Moore 1-1-0-15. Goddard, Semrad 5-8-1-68, Sullivan 3-6-0-57.
Receiving—Eisenhower, Mackey 4-61, King 2-51, MaKinnon 1-(-3). Goddard, Beason 3-45, True 4-43, Mitchell 1-37.