Park Hill South found a way to survive a wild back-and-forth fourth quarter to earn an important win.
Starting a stretch of five Suburban Conference Red Division games in the final six weeks of the regular season, Park Hill South used a safety and then Ta’Von Tusa’s second rushing touchdown to take the lead for good in a 23-22 win over St. Joseph Central on Friday, Sept. 8 in St. Joseph, Mo. The Indians scored a late touchdown, failed on a go-ahead 2-point conversion try, recovered an onside kick and couldn’t get into range for a late field goal try during the final 2 minutes, 39 seconds.
Park Hill South (2-2, 1-0 Suburban Red) didn’t score in the final 9 minutes but held on despite playing a third-string quarterback.
Billy Eggers and Taylor Tobin both broke their collarbone in a Week 3 loss to Park Hill, and Panthers coach Mike Sharp turned to sophomore Matthew Suchanick against Central (1-3). He threw for 28 yards on six completions but did not have a turnover.
Tusa was again the workhorse, carrying 31 times for 182 yards. The transfer running back from Bishop Miege (Kan.) gave Park Hill South an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter, and Suchanick’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Sam Beuerlein made it 14-7 in the third quarter.
Central took a 16-14 lead early in the fourth quarter, but a safety followed by a touchdown drive — capped with Tusa’s second touchdown run made it 23-16 with just 2:39 to go.
Central mounted an 80-yard touchdown drive and then opted to go for two while down one point. The pass failed, but the Indians then recovered the ensuing onside kickoff to force Park Hill South’s defense to make one final stop.
Park Hill South, which entered off back-to-back losses to drop out of the Class 5 top 10 in the Missouri media rankings, made another stand. Connor Campbell led the Panthers with 13 tackles.
The next three games for Park Hill South will also be in Red Division play against the three top contenders — Raytown, Liberty North and Liberty. Last year, the Panthers recovered from a loss to Park Hill to win eight straight and reach the Class 5 playoffs.
That run included an unbeaten march through the Red Division.