|From left: SM East's Luke Taylor and Christian Blessen, and Olathe Northwest's Adam Harter|
combined to score five of the game's seven touchdowns. Photo KC Star.
In my years of watching Sunflower League football I've never seen a game with as exciting of finish as this one. In Chip Sherman's first game against his old school, SM East, his new team came within three seconds of notching a huge upset, but it was the Lancers' game to win. Things started in the first quarter when SM East capped off a methodical drive with a three-yard touchdown run from Christian Blessen. Olathe Northwest matched the score in the second quarter when Adam Harter picked off a Blessen pass and returned it for a touchdown. The Ravens successfully completed a two-point conversion to go up 8-7, which held through halftime. In the third quarter Olathe Northwest put together a nice drive and capped it off with a seven-yard touchdown run from Harter to extend the lead to 14-7. SM East answered right back when Luke Taylor took a carry 69 yards for a touchdown, but a botched extra point attempt left the Lancers down 14-13.
After that neither team was able to score until late in the fourth quarter. Olathe Northwest looked to be in position to ice the game -- gaining possession of the ball and driving into Lancer territory with under three minutes remaining -- but Cole Dahlquist was sacked on a fourth down play and fumbled the ball. SM East's Sam Williams picked up the loose fumble and returned it 78 yards for a score. A successful two-point try put SM East ahead 21-14. But it wouldn't end there.
Dahlquist found receiver Andrew Steinhauser on a 42-yard pass on Ravens' next possession, to get Olathe Northwest into scoring position. A few players later Dahlquist hit Chase Gitlin on a slant route for a touchdown to pull to within one. The Ravens elected to go for two, and cashed in when Gitlin caught a dump pass and basically used his size to overpower a few SM East defenders and go in for two points, which gave Olathe Northwest a 22-21 lead with 30 seconds remaining.
But there was more. SM East used a decent kick return and three consecutive completions on out routes to advance the ball into Olathe Northwest territory with just three seconds remaining. Sitting at the 36-yard line, the Lancers dialed up a Hail Mary from Blessen (coincidence?) aimed towards the middle of the endzone. The ball was tipped first by a Raven defender, then bounced around a bit, before SM East's Alec Dean reached for and snagged the ball out of the air to score a touchdown, with no time remaining on the clock.
Lawrence Free State 28, Olathe East 26
Olathe East came out with a chip on their shoulder, jumping to a 13-0 lead, but the momentum slowly shifted in Free State's favor as the game continued. The two early touchdowns came on runs of 28 and 35 yards by the Hawks' Jordan Brown and Jalen Branson. Free State answered early in the second quarter when Joe Dineen capped off a drive with a nine-yard touchdown run, but Olathe East got the last score in before the half when Connor Leach capped an Olathe East drive with a five-yard touchdown run of his own. The score gave Olathe East a 20-7 halftime lead. Early in the third quarter Dineen found Zach Bickling on a 38-yard touchdown pass to pull to within six points. In the fourth quarter the Firebirds took their first lead of the game when Dineen connected with Keith Loneker on a 14-yard touchdown pass, to go ahead 21-20. The aerial assault added another touchdown midway through the quarter on a 46-yard pass from Dineen to Joel Spain, making things 28-20. Olathe East had one final response -- a drive and two-yard touchdown run from Brown to pull to within a two-point conversion with just over a minute remaining. But Brown was stuffed on the conversion attempt and Free State was able to close out the victory shortly thereafter.
SM West 14, Lawrence 13
Lawrence brought an old-school mentality to Overland Park and nearly knocked off SM West, but in the end their upset attempt came up 13.4 seconds short. The only score of the first half came when SM West's Mario Louis scored a touchdown on a 19-yard run on a third and long play. The Vikings took the 7-0 lead to halftime. The third quarter was another stalemate, before LHS made their move in the fourth. First, the Chesty Lions manufactured a 13-play (all runs), 94-yard touchdown drive to tie the game at seven. SM West was forced to punt on their next possession. Facing a 4th and 1 at their own 38-yard line, with 1:35 remaining, LHS quarterback Nyle Anderson took a naked bootleg around the left end and went untouched 62 yards for a touchdown with just 1:26 remaining. The PAT attempt was blocked by Lee Spight -- perhaps the most pivotal play of the game when all was said and done -- but LHS had a 13-7 lead. SM West's Andre Maloney was able to return the ensuing kickoff to the Vikings' 44-yard line. A few wild pass plays later, SM West's AJ Verdini found Maloney in the endzone on an eight-yard touchdown pass, with 13.4 seconds remaining. A successful PAT and a Justin Hobbs interception a few plays later closed out the game for the victorious Vikings.
Olathe South 18, Leavenworth 16
Former head coaches went 0-2 against their former schools this week. Mark Littrell's team lost to his old program, Olathe South, in what turned out to be a pretty entertaining game. After a scoreless first quarter, Leavenworth notched a 24-yard field goal from Jake Boyce to go ahead 3-0. Olathe South answered with two touchdowns from Tom McCue -- and eight yard run and a 70-yard catch and run from Jake Seurer -- to give the Falcons a 13-3 edge. Logan Swartz knocked a field goal through for the Falcons shortly after, as they took a 16-3 lead, but Leavenworth answered with a drive and a 10-yard touchdown run from Jason Randall. At the half Olathe South led 16-10. Olathe South managed a third quarter safety to go up 18-10, before Randall added his second touchdown of the night for the Pioneers on a 36-yard run. However, a missed two-point conversion attempt kept Leavenworth from tying the game. A scoreless fourth quarter made for Olathe South's second victory of the young season.
SM South 28, SM Northwest 21
Most of the time the major scoring takes place in the second half when defenses are worn down. That wasn't the case in this game, as the teams combined for six first half touchdowns, and just one score in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. The Raiders scored first when Ra'Keim Abdul returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown early in the first quarter, giving SM South a 7-0 edge. The lead jumped to 14-0 when Abdul capped off a Raider drive with a seven-yard touchdown run later in the quarter. SM Northwest answered on the ensuing kickoff, as Jake Horner returned the ball 94 yards for a touchdown to make things 14-7. On the very next drive, however, Abdul punched in his third touchdown of the game on a six-yard touchdown run to put SM South up 21-7. SM Northwest put together a nice drive a bit later, and capped it off with a 19-yard touchdown run from Horner. A successful two-point conversion made things 21-15, SM South. The Raiders matched it with a final score -- on a one-yard run from Chase Allen -- just before the half to go up 28-15. Horner added a late touchdown for SM Northwest in the fourth quarter, making things 28-21, but the Cougars weren't able to get any closer than that.
Olathe North 62, SM North 14
No box score was reported. After Olathe North's stale offensive performance against SM South last week, in which they only score seven points, the Eagles came out firing, putting up 62 points -- a league high this season. SM North was actually only down 27-14 early in the third quarter when they scored on a 75-yard touchdown pass from Will Schneider to Nick Perez, but that was as close as they would get. Olathe North rattled off 35 straight points to close out the game.