|Sam Huffman and SM East's offense managed to keep the Hutchinson defense off balance and|
guessing during Saturday's 6A state title game. SM East was victorious, 33-14. Photo Kansas City Star.
It took 57 years, but at long last SM East was the final team standing. The Lancers claimed their first ever state championship Saturday, defeating Hutchinson 33-14 in the 6A state title game in Emporia.
Hutchinson, the winner of seven big-class state titles since 2004, received the opening kickoff to start the game. A play later they gave SM East a "welcome to Hutch football" moment when running back Blaik Middleton ran around the Lancer defense on a 22-yard run. The Salthawks went to Middleton again shortly thereafter, but he fumbled the ball and SM East recovered near midfield.
The Lancers put together one of their hallmark drives, going 52 yards over 14 plays, and converting two fourth down attempts. Wyatt Edmisten took a fullback dive into the endzone for the first score of the game, and SM East led 7-0.
The two teams traded punts, before Hutchinson began their third possession of the game to start the second quarter. A 46-yard run from Turner Wintz on a bootleg play put Hutchinson in SM East territory. A few plays later Middleton took a carry off the right tackle, made it to the second level, then cut back against the grain and curved toward the endzone on a 39-yard touchdown run. The score tied the game at 7.
SM East began their next possession at their own 20-yard line, and put together what might have been their most impressive drive of the day. Sam Huffman took the first play of the drive 20 yards. Two 20-yard runs from Edmisten put SM East deep in Hutchinson territory, before he scored his second touchdown of the game from one yard out. The PAT missed, but SM East led 13-7 at the 8:09 mark of the second quarter.
Hutchinson answered right back, driving over 60 yards into the SM East redzone. On a fourth down play, Wintz fumbled the snap, recovered the ball, rolled to his right, then found receiver Ryan Stocklein in the middle of the endzone for a touchdown. The Salthawks converted the PAT and took a 14-13 lead on the 73-yard drive.
SM East would respond, again.
Cued by a kickoff return to the 45-yard line by Jack Tyler, the Lancers compiled a nice drive, taking the ball into Hutchinson territory and driving the clock under two minutes.
Quarterback Gunnar Englund found a good time to complete his only touchdown of the day, dropping a 35-yard strike on the money to Charley White who caught the ball and ran untouched into the endzone. SM East couldn't convert the two-point conversion, but led 19-14.
On their ensuing possession, Hutchinson made quick work getting down the field and into SM East territory. However, their last-second Hail Mary pass was batted down by the Lancers' secondary, and the game went to the intermission with SM East leading, 19-14.
That proved to be Hutchinson's last gasp at getting back into the game.
To start the second half, the Salthawks attempted a surprise onside kick, but SM East was alert and recovered the loose ball. A quick drive later, the Lancers scored on a six-yard touchdown run from Edmisten to go up 26-14.
Hutchinson managed to drive to the SM East 27-yard line on their next possession, courtesy of a 33-yard run from Wintz. But Wintz fumbled the ball on a carry up the middle, and SM East recovered and took over at their own 17-yard line.
The Lancers drove to midfield, and actually had a 50-yard touchdown run from Huffman called back on a holding call, before being forced to punt.
Hutchinson didn't manage anything on their next possession, and dug themselves into a deeper hole when SM East sniffed out their fake punt attempt.
The Lancers ran the remaining minutes of the third quarter off the board, before punting the ball back to the Salthawks to begin the fourth quarter.
Hutchinson drove to midfield, but surrendered possession when they were unable to convert a fourth down try with just over eight minutes left in the game.
SM East then put together what would be be the deciding drive of the game. On the first play of the drive, a pitch to Mike Bamford took the Lancers to the Salthawk 26-yard line. A couple runs ran more time off the clock, before Englund surprised everyone on third down, finding White on a 22-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the endzone.
A successful PAT gave SM East a controlling 33-14 lead, with just 5:37 remaining in the game. Hutchinson would turn the ball over on downs, before SM East regained possession and ran out the clock.
The victory put the exclamation point on SM East's perfect season, just the fifth of its kind among all Sunflower League teams since 2000. It also improved second-year Lancer head coach Dustin Delaney's record to 24-2 overall.
|The Lancer defense had a bend-but-don't-break mentality against Hutchinson. SM East allowed|
346 rushing yards, but also forced two turnovers, and only gave up two touchdowns. Photo Kansas City Star.
SM East (13-0) 7 12 7 7 -- 33
Hutchinson (8-5) 0 14 0 0 -- 14
SME - Edmisten 1 run (Tamblyn kick)
HHS - Middleton 39 run (Culley kick)
SME - Edmisten 2 run (Tamblyn kick failed)
HHS - Stocklein 13 pass from Wintz (Culley kick)
SME - White 36 pass from Englund (Huffman run failed)
SME - Edmisten 6 run (Tamblyn kick)
SME - White 22 pass from Englund (Tamblyn kick)
Passing - SM East, Englund 2-7-58-0; Hutchinson, Wintz, 2-5-23-0
Rushing - SM East, Edmisten 32-142, Huffman 7-55, Bamford 5-45, Englund 7-28; Hutchinson, Middleton 28-163, Wintz 13-161, Hardenberger 6-22.
Receiving - SM East, White 2-58; Hutchinson, Stocklein, 2-23.