The Lancers traded blows with the SM West Vikings for three quarters Friday.
And then, almost from the moment the fourth quarter began, it all fell apart.
After a spectacular third quarter drive from that ended with a highlight-reel-worthy back-of-the-endzone pass from Jordan Darling to Billy Sutherland, the Lancer had tied the game at 14 and appeared to have momentum on their side.
But then SM West’s defense — which had put consistent pressure on Darling all night — took their game up a notch, and nearly forced a safety on the Lancers’ next possession. The Vikings took over with excellent field position, and drove in for a touchdown with 9:29 to go.
Back on offense, Darling again faced intense pressure from the Vikings defense and threw an interception on a long pass. SM West quarterback A.J. Verdini didn’t waste any time in making the Lancers pay, hooking up with wide receiver Andre Maloney for a long touchdown pass that put the Lancers down 28-14 with the fourth quarter winding down.
The loss knocks SM East, now 6-2, out of contention for the Sunflower League regular season title. Still, with a win over 0-8 SM North, who lost 42-14 to SM Northwest this week, in the final regular-season game of the year, the Lancers secure a spot in the playoffs — though the loss to SM West likely means the Lancers will enter the postseason as a five or six seed as opposed to a one or two seed.
Here’s a panoramic photo from the sidelines Friday: