EMPORIA — The top two teams in the state needed every second to determine a winner in the class 6A championship Saturday as Derby kicked a field goal with 27 seconds left to defeat Blue Valley 17-14. The Panthers scored the final 11 points of the game to earn back-to-back titles and their third championship in four years.
Blue Valley coach Eric Driskell said Derby made more plays down the stretch than his team did.
“Our kids played tremendously hard,” Driskell said. “That’s two good football teams playing against each other.”
The Tigers led 14-6 at halftime thanks to a 32-yard connection from senior Matt Dercher to senior Harrison Van Dyne. Dercher rolled to his right and threw back across to the left to an isolated Van Dyne, who went up above Melvin Ray to haul in the catch.
“It felt like we could play with them,” Driskell said heading into halftime. “It wasn’t like we were going to blow the doors off them. It felt like, we’re up, we have to get something going and we obviously couldn’t muster much in the second half, made some mistakes in critical situations, myself included.”
Blue Valley turned the ball over four times on the afternoon, but Derby only capitalized on one of the mistakes. However, that turnover led to the game-tying touchdown.
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