EMPORIA — Topeka High's hopes of earning a share of the Centennial League championship are alive and well, and the Trojans have junior Gregorio Leonardo to thank.
Leonardo, a foreign exchange student who also plays soccer for High, kicked a 39-yard field goal as time expired Friday night to give the Trojans a dramatic 27-26 win against Emporia at Welch Stadium.
"Every time when we work on that field goal and extra-point drill, we tell him he's going to hit a big one for us before it's over; just wait and see," Topeka High coach Walt Alexander said. "He came through today. I couldn't be more proud of him."
Leonardo's kick, his second field goal of the game, capped a comeback that saw the Trojans (6-1, 5-1 Centennial League) answer after the Spartans took a 26-24 lead on a 3-yard run by Beau Baumgardner. Trojan senior Grant Cooney blocked Emporia's point-after try to keep their deficit at two points.
The win leaves High tied with Manhattan atop the Centennial League with one regular-season game remaining. High will play 1-6 Topeka West at Hummer Sports Park, and Manhattan will play host to winless Highland Park.
The Trojans outgained the Spartans 361-253 behind 204 combined rushing yards from Ky Thomas (114) and Jacqez Barksdale (90). Da'Vonshai Harden added 133 passing yards for two touchdowns despite connecting on only 5 of 14 tosses.
Harden's biggest completion was an 80-yard scoring toss to Barskdale with 5:02 to play that gave High a 24-20 lead.
Gabe Galindo led Emporia (3-3, 3-2) with 85 rushing yards on 22 carries.
While Leonardo made two field goals — his other boot came from 29 yards late in the third quarter — the Spartans missed two PATs, both blocked by Cooney, in the final quarter that proved costly.
TOPEKA HIGH 27, EMPORIA 26
Topeka High (6-1, 5-1);7;7;3;10;—;27
Emporia (3-3, 3-2);7;7;0;12;—;26
EHS — Galindo 5 run (J. Stewart Kick)
TH — Miller 7 pass from Harden (Leonardo Kick)
EHS — Snyder 15 pass from J. Stewart (J. Stewart Kick)
TH — Barksdale 29 run (Leonardo Kick)
TH — Leonardo 29 field goal
EHS — J. Stewart 2 run (kick blocked)
TH — Barksdale 80 pass from Harden (Schritchfield Kick)
EHS — Baumgardner 3 run (kick blocked)
TH — Leonardo 39 field goal
RUSHING — TH: Thomas 20-114, Harden 4-24, Barksdale 14-90. EHS: Galindo 22-85, J. Stewart 12-68, Baumgardner 7-13, Lindquist 7-22.
PASSING — TH: Harden 5-14-1 133 yards, Thomas 0-1-0. EHS: J. Stewart 2-10-0, 65.
RECEIVING — TH: Barksdale 2-94, Smith 1-20, Miller 2-19. EHS: S. Stewart 1-50, Snyder 1-15.