Maybe it was the change in weather. Maybe it was being on the road. Maybe is was that pesky defensive rush.
But whatever the reason, the SM East Lancers on Friday found themselves in unfamiliar territory. Losing. And losing badly.
Hampered by the Lawrence Free State defense all night long, the Lancers were shut out, falling 28-0 at Free State Athletic Stadium. Lancers quarterback Jordan Darling, the lynchpin in SM East’s usually potent offense, was held to a nine-for-28 passing performance for just 75 yards. He carried the ball 16 times for a cumulative loss of 12 yards.
And all that defensive pressure wasn’t without consequence. Free State forced four turnovers in the first half, including a second quarter interception returned for a touchdown that put the Firebirds up 21-0. The Lancers went three-and-out their first five possessions of the second half.
The loss knocked the Lancers from first to fourth place in the Sunflower League standings. Though Lawrence, SM West, and Free State all share the Lancers’ 5-1 overall record, Lawrence is 5-0 in league play, while the Lancers are 3-1.
If there’s a silver lining in the wake of the loss, it’s that the Lancers face a 1-5 SM Northwest team at SM North next week, which should give them an opportunity to refocus.
Lancer dad Brian Libeer said he wasn’t planning on putting a recap video together after the loss.
“But, I saw one of the players at the school today and they wanted me to make a video,” he wrote. “It made me remember that win or lose this is part of the journey, and this is THEIR season. We should not dwell on the loss, but use it as fuel.”
Won’t back down!