The Lancers didn’t need any last minute heroics for a win over Shawnee Mission Northwest — they just needed to hold on to the ball.
Coming off their first loss of the season last week, a heartbreaking overtime defeat at the hands of a talented Lawrence Free State squad, head coach Dustin Delaney’s SM East team got off to a shaky start Friday, with fumbles once again hobbling the team’s dynamic wishbone attack.
Quarterback Christian Blessen lost the ball on the Lancers’ first drive, and the Cougars’ Jake Horner scooped it up and ran it back for a touchdown. With the Lancers down 7-0, SM East’s Micah Dodson lost the ball once again, and SM Northwest drove for a score on their ensuing possession.
“When we fumble, bad things happen,” Delaney said of the early missteps after the game. “But we started hanging on to the football, and good things happened.”
Indeed, Blessen connected with Mitchell Tyler for a 79-yard catch-and-run that put the Lancers on the board. Another Tyler touchdown and a score from sophomore Nahmar Bethea made it 21-13 at the half.
SM Northwest was just a score behind as the third quarter got under way, but a nearly 70-yard catch-and-run by Sam Huffman set up a short Luke Taylor touchdown to put the Lancers firmly in control at 28-13. A fourth quarter run from Dodson capped off the Lancers’ scoring for the night.
The win moves the Lancers to 6-1 on the season and ensures them at least a share of the Sunflower League title, just the fifth in school history.
The game against SM Northwest, now 1-6, was the first of three District games that will determine who advances to State Regionals play. The Lancers will next face defending State 6A champion SM West, who moved to 4-3 on the season after beating SM North last night. The Vikings have gone through a difficult stretch, losing two games in a row prior to their win over the Indians, and coping with the death of wide receiver Andre Maloney.
Delaney says they are still a formidable opponent.
“Shawnee Mission West is always good,” he said. “They’re defending state champions for a reason.”
Listen to all of Delaney’s post game comments below:
And here are a couple of interesting post-game tweets:
SM East has been very impressive. Let's be honesty — the general consensus this offseason was that the flexbone transition would be tough.
— Eli Underwood (@eliunderwood) October 19, 2013
@eliunderwood Delaney installed it at Emporia and threw 50 TD out of flexbone in 2 years. He can coach it up.
— JayhawkSlant (@JayhawkSlant) October 19, 2013
Thanks for braving the cold everyone. Feels good to be a Sunflower League Champ but we got a lot more in store. #1-0 #SMESTRONG
— Mitchell Tyler (@MitchTyler1) October 19, 2013