Topeka Not so cool in a pool, Paul Kempf nevertheless can turn up the heat on a football field.
Kempf caught two touchdown passes, ran for another score and threw for a TD, sparking Veritas Christian to a 42-36 win Friday over Topeka Cair Paravel at Chandler Field.
"I swam when I was little," Kempf said after his yeoman performance kept the Eagles unbeaten, "but I'm pretty poor. And I have the genes, too."
Kempf's father is longtime Kansas University swim coach and now assistant athletic director Gary Kempf. His uncle, Tom Kempf, also was a former KU swim standout.
Young Kempf, however, sticks to football. A 6-foot-1, 170-pound senior, he also produced the game's biggest defensive play. Cair Paravel was on the Eagles' 17-yard line, facing a fourth-and-two situation with less than a minute remaining when Kempf knocked quarterback Kyle Williams' last-ditch pass away from end Eric Packer.
"(Packer) has beaten me earlier," Kempf said, "and I just had a feeling they were going to him."
Veritas seemed to be in control late in the third quarter, leading 30-16 after Kempf caught a screen pass from quarterback Casey Woods and lugged the ball 45 yards to the end zone. But the Eagles fumbled away their next two possessions, and the Lions scored twice within a 43-second span to forge a 30-30 deadlock.
"You could see they were disappointed," Veritas coach Doug Bennett said of his players, "but it took just a split second and they knew they needed to get back at it."
With just two ticks remaining in the third quarter, the Eagles posted a 36-30 lead when Kempf scored on a 13-yard pass from Woods. But the see-saw tipped down again early in the fourth quarter when Cair Paravel knotted the count at 36-all.
Veritas answered by marching 51 yards in 10 rushes with Jesse Schultz doing most of the damage. Schultz, who teams with Kempf in the backfield, carried six times for 20 yards, including a one-yard plunge into the end zone with 3:39 remaining.
Cair Paravel then drove from its own 15 to the Eagles' 17 before Kempf broke up the fourth-down pass with just :44 on the clock.
"We really struggled defensively all night," Bennett said. "I made the mistake of not getting a game film, and their quarterback really hurt us with counter plays."
This is the first year Veritas has had an eight-man varsity football program, but the Eagles had played Cair Paravel at the junior high and junior-varsity level and had no problems.
"They've improved," Bennett said. "They're definitely the best competition we've seen."
Kempf carried 13 times for 106 yards and caught four passes for 79 yards. Schultz gained 74 yards on 15 carries. Woods completed 5 of 9 passes for 83 yards.
Veritas (3-0) travels Friday to St. Joseph (Mo.) Christian.