(Kenny Felt/Special to the Tribune)
Louisburg's do-everything running back ran roughshod over Fort Scott High in a Class 4A Bi-District Playoff Game at Frary Field, rushing for 295 yards and scoring all four of Louisburg's touchdowns as the visiting Wildcats held on for a 27-20 victory.
The Tigers (8-2) got within a touchdown with 1:49 remaining in the game when Dane Cummings scored on a 4-yard run. Jonathan Allen kicked the PAT that narrowed the margin to 7 points.
But Griffin was there to fall on the ensuing onside kick and the Tigers, out of time outs, could only watch as Louisburg (5-5) ran out the clock.
The defending Class 4A State champions, Louisburg will host Chanute, a 28-27 overtime victory at Coffeyville Tuesday night, in a Regional Playoff Game Saturday night.
Griffin, who had 154 yards at the half, proved just as deadly from the I-formation as he was in the Wildcat formation, taking direct snaps and looking for openings in the middle. And Louisburg's offensive line gave him plenty of room.
Meanwhile, Fort Scott had to go to the air to get big chunks of yardage and quarterback Johnathan Stark had his best numbers of the season, throwing for 185 yards as the Tigers tried to come back.
Stark hit tight end Luke Brown for a 51-yard gain on a key play on the game's first possession, moving the ball down to the Louisburg 22-yard line. But four plays later, the Wildcats held when Griffin closed in and batted down a pass intended for Brown.
Griffin scored 10 plays later on a 3-yard run with 3:59 left in the first quarter. But the Tigers blocked the extra point.
The 'Cats squibbed the kickoff, which Nick Nuzum recovered at his own 45. The Tigers moved down to the Louisburg 2, where Stark snuck over the line for the tying score with 1:07 to go in the period. Jonathan Allen's PAT went wide.
Griffin scored on a 22-yard run with 8:47 to go in the half, as he used a hole opened up by the left side of his offensive line.
Louisburg squibbed the kickoff and recovered it at Fort Scott's 34. But the Tigers managed to hold Griffin to only 3 yards on a fourth-and-goal play from the four and took over with 2:22 to go.
Jason Thorpe got the Tigers out of the hole on second down with a 22-yard run. A few plays later, Stark hit Thorpe for a 16-yard gain to the Louisburg 49 and followed up with a 39-yard connection with Brown. But the drive stalled at the 6 with 17 seconds left in the half as Nathan Goodwin batted a fourth-down pass away.
Louisburg received the second-half kickoff and used the Wildcat formation exclusively on the drive. Griffin went up the middle from 6 yards out with 8:29 to go to put the 'Cats up by two scores, 19-6.
Fort Scott fought back, scoring on a 14-play, 58-yard drive when Dane Cummings went though the line from 1 yard out with 1:47 left in the third. Allen made the extra point this time to bring the Tigers within 19-13.
Louisburg responded. Griffin broke tackles for a 45-yard gain out of the Wildcat to the Fort Scott 29 on the first play of the ensuing drive. Going back to a conventional offense a few plays into it, the 'Cats sent Griffin over the top of the line from 1 yard out with 9:55 remaining. Griffin scored a 2-point conversion to make it a 14-point lead, 27-13.
The Tigers advanced to the Wildcats' 35 on the ensuing drive. But Goodwin closed the gap on the intended receiver and picked off a pass to end that drive with seven minutes to go.
Fort Scott held and forced the game's only punt, taking over at their own 42 after Thorpe's 16-yard return.
Faced with fourth-and-7 from his own 45, Stark kept the drive alive by connecting with Brown for 16 yards. Stark then found Cummings for 8 yards and Brown again for 15 more to get to the Louisburg 16.
Stark found Brown once more on third-and-8 from the 14 for 10 yards to set up Cummings' second TD.
Stark completed 10 of 19 passes, his yardage total the third-most by a Tiger in a playoff game since 1996. Brown caught 5 passes for 131 yards, the fifth-most yards by a Tiger receiver since 1996.
Cummings led Tiger rushers with 67 yards on 11 carries. Thorpe finished with 60 yards on 16 rushes.
Louisburg gained all but 11 of its 349 yards of total offense on the ground. Fort Scott finished with 346 yards of total offense, 161 on the ground.
NOTES -- Chanute's victory came in just the second overtime playoff game in Southeast Kansas League history. Chanute was also the victor in the other one, a 13-7 verdict over Baldwin in 2005....
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