CENTERVIEW — Kole Conard helped shut the door on Sweet Springs on Friday night, Oct. 11, as he swatted down the final pass of the game to lift Crest Ridge to a 28-22 win at home and sole possession of the I-70 Conference lead.

“It is huge for us, just staying together and continuing to build character through adversity,” Crest Ridge coach Thomas Hotmer said. “Our kids continue to fight, it was awesome.”

Not only did Crest Ridge gain sole control of the conference lead, but it also welcomed back senior Blayne McMillin who had been out since after week three with a knee injury.

“Having him back tonight was awesome,” Hotmer said.

Crest Ridge (5-2, 4-0 I-70) rushed out to a 28-8 lead through one half.

But, Sweet Springs turned the tables in the final 24 minutes of play.

Down 20 points at the half, the Greyhounds controlled the pace of the game in the second half and slowly chipped away at the Crest Ridge lead.

“Our offense was off the field for probably 75 percent of the second half,” Hotmer said.

The visiting Squad held Crest Ridge on its first possession of the second half and scored on the ensuing possession.

Grant Knipmeyer took the ball out to the side and was off to the races for six.

The two-point attempted failed with Crest Ridge still up 28-14.

The 14-point game held until midway through the fourth when the Greyhounds turned a nearly two and a half minute drive into eight points thanks to Hunter Sims carrying the ball in for six and two.

The Crest Ridge lead was cut to six points, 28-22, with three minutes, 25 seconds remaining in the game.

Crest Ridge was unable to run out the clock and gave the ball back to the Greyhounds after failing to convert of fourth and two from its own 49.

Sweet Springs had 1:32 left on the clock to tie, and potentially win, the game.

The Greyhounds took a couple shots at the end zone but the Crest Ridge defense held tough to secure the win.

“Big time for our program, for our kids to take sole control of the conference,” Hotmer said.

Sweet Springs fell to 4-3 on the season and 3-1 in conference play.

Crest Ridge would have led 28-0 heading into the intermission if it weren’t for a kickoff return that turned into points for the Greyhounds in the first half.

“It gave them a little bit of hope,” Hotmer said.

After Crest Ridge scored first led 8-0 on a touchdown pass from Will Taylor to Cole Schmidli, the Greyhounds returned the kickoff and tied the game.

Crest Ridge scored its next three touchdowns through the air as Taylor found David Siegfried twice and Jaden Ring once.

Taylor finished the night 21 of 25 for 367 yards and four touchdowns.

Ring was the leading receiver with seven catches for 117 yards and a touchdown.

While Hotmer said it was not always pretty at times Friday night, Crest Ridge now controls its own destiny in winning a conference title.

“It is all about Crest Ridge, we do not care about anyone else,” Hotmer said.

Crest Ridge has a chance to lock up the conference title in week eight as it travels on the road to Concordia.

But for Hotmer, that isn’t the immediate task at hand.

“We have to focus one day at a time just on ourselves,” he said. “A lot of people will talk about that, but if you do not get it done, it does not matter.”

Crest Ridge’s game at Concordia is set to kickoff at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18.

Managing Editor of Digital Publishing Derek Brizendine can be reached by emailing derek.brizendine@dsjnow.com, by calling (660) 747-8123 or on Twitter at @DerekBrizendine.

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