BROOKVILLE — Ell-Saline needed a late touchdown in its district opener on Friday night against Republic County.
With 52 seconds left in the game, T.J. Morrical found Keenan Drees for a 45-yard score that gave the Cardinals a 36-30 victory over the Buffaloes.
In the first quarter, Kaleb Takington's 5-yard run got the scoring started for Republic Co. Ell-Saline knotted it with a Sawyer Kramer 41-yard run.
The Buffaloes regained the lead early in the second period on Jared Baxa's 1-yard run. Trailing late in the quarter, Ell-Saline got a 50-yard punt return for a score from Luke Parks to take a one-point advantage at halftime.
Ell-Saline increased its lead on its first possession of the second half with a 42-yard run from Drees.
Baxa scored his second 1-yard touchdown and Nevan Benyshek ran for the two-point conversion to get Republic County even at 22.
With eight minutes left, Ell-Saline went back in front on a 19-yard pass from Morrical to Owen Bradley, but Baxa answered with his third touchdown for Republic County. Baxa then ran for the two-point conversion to put the Buffaloes up one, 30-29, with just 1:43 left.
That set up the game-winning drive for the Cardinals.
Morrical was 9-of-16 passing for 135 yards and two scores. Kramer was Ell-Saline's leading rusher with 76 yards on six attempts and a touchdown, and Drees had two catches for 63 yards and the game-winning score.
Baxa had a game-high 183 yard rushing for the Republic County.
Ell-Saline improved to 5-1 and will travel to Sacred Heart on Friday, while Republic County (0-6) and will entertain Smith Center.
Southeast of Saline 48, Mission Valley 6
At Eskridge, Bryant Banks and Jaxson Gebhardt combined for seven touchdowns as Southeast of Saline picked up its fifth win of the season .
Gebhardt had a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter on a 19-yard run and a 64-yard punt return.
Banks added touchdown runs of 6 and 2 yards in the third as the Trojans extended their lead to 29-0.
Mission Valley avoided the shutout in the fourth with a 26-yard touchdown pass, but the Trojans added three more scores in the period. Banks recorded touchdowns of 13 and 4 yards and Gebhardt added a 5-yarder.
Banks ran for 162 yards and four touchdowns, while Gebhardt 128 yards and three scores on the ground and therw for 57 yards.
Southeast (5-1) plays host tp Riley County on Friday.