Lee’s Summit senior Travis Simonen and his coaches knew he had the leg to make a big-time field goal.
By TODD ENGLE
Special to The Star
Now everybody else does too.
Simonen connected from 48 yards out — with room to spare — with 12.6 seconds left in regulation, lifting Lee’s Summit to a 31-28 victory Friday night over Liberty in a battle of undefeated teams.
“I knew they were wanting me the whole fourth quarter,” Simonen said. “I was already getting warm and everything.”
The sound of the kick was pure, as was the Tigers’ celebration when the kick sailed through the goalposts.
“It was the best feeling of my high school career, actually. It was perfect for my senior year,” Simonen said. “It got the team still undefeated. It’s amazing.”
The decision to kick took Liberty by surprise.
“I thought they were going to take a shot at the end zone, honestly, and then they brought (Simonen) out,” Liberty coach Chad Frigon said. “Hats off to that kid. He made a great play. We’d have liked to get off the field 10 yards further out, obviously, but I was pleased when we got the stop right there.”
Lee’s Summit, 4-0, caused three turnovers in the third quarter and finally cashed in when Drew Lock threw his third touchdown pass to push the lead to 28-20 in the final minute of the quarter.
Liberty responded midway through the fourth with a 15-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion from Devon Bryant, who finished with 125 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Lee’s Summit got the ball last in game that was noteworthy for its sloppy play. Each team had three turnovers. Liberty, 3-1, had two touchdowns called back, including a 90-yard return on the opening kickoff.
Tigers quarterback Drew Lock, like any quarterback, wanted a chance to punch the ball in the end zone for the win. He threw for 240 yards and four touchdowns and three interceptions.
But he knew Simonen’s leg gave the offense some margin for error.
“From that spot, I knew Travis could make that field goal. He does it in practice all the time,” Lock said. “I was expecting to get in. I was expecting to score a touchdown.”
The Tigers are officially on a roll after four straight wins. They haven’t been pretty, but aesthetics don’t matter.
“We really complemented each other well tonight and got the win,” Lock said.
That’s what matters.