Park Hill South drove 89 yards in 11 plays to add some momentum to its postseason push. In the regular season finale Friday, Oct. 16, the Panthers scored with 38 seconds remaining to beat St. Joseph Central 24-20 — the second straight win after opening with seven straight losses. Park Hill South also improved to 2-3 in Suburban Conference Red Division play but still finished with the No. 6 seed in the Class 5 District 8 standings.
Liberty North (7-2) hosts the Panthers in the first round of the bracket Friday, Oct. 23. The Eagles have won five straight, including a 21-15 upset of then-Class 5 No. 1-ranked Fort Osage two weeks ago.
Park Hill South quarterback Zach Suchanick hit junior wide receiver Dillon Thomas with the winning touchdown pass against Central from 4 yards out at Park Hill District Stadium, providing the final score of a back-and-forth struggle. The Indians went ahead 20-17 with 3:35 to go on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Hess to Keith Roderick.
In the first half, Central led 7-0 on Hess’ first of two touchdown passes but went into halftime behind after missing three field goal tries, including a blocked kick late in the second quarter.
Suchanick used a long completion to junior wide receiver Jake Springer to set up a 3-yard touchdown run for the Panthers’ quarterback with 11:38 left in the half. Park Hill South kicker Stephen Personelli hit a 20-yard field goal with 2:44 to go to give the Panthers their first lead at 10-7.
Central running back Israel Smith finally broke free in the third quarter with a 48-yard sprint up the middle on a fourth-and-1 play for the first of four lead changes in the second half.
Suchanick hit Thomas for their first touchdown connection seconds into the fourth quarter, and Park Hill South drove deep into Central territory a few minutes later with a chance to add to the 17-13 lead. Instead, Smith — the star running back — came up with a sack on fourth down to set up the Indians at their own 27-yard line.
After a key fourth-down conversion on a 14-yard pass from Hess to Andrew Lindstrom, Hess completed the drive with the pass to Roderick, but the Indians couldn’t hold the lead.