After clawing back to tie Lawrence Free State in regulation, Shawnee Mission East ran out of gas in overtime Friday night, losing 17-10 and in the process allowed the Firebirds to tie the Lancers atop the Sunflower League.
By CHARLES REDFIELD
Special to The Star
SM East faced a 10-7 deficit with 1:39 left in the game and the ball on its own 4-yard line and with no timeouts.
But the Lancers were able to gain a first down at the Free State 17 before their drive stalled. Senior kicker Colin Burns came in and tied the game 10-10 with a 28-yard field goal with just 34 seconds left.
The Firebirds won the toss for the overtime, and Lawrence Free State coach Bob Lisher made an interesting tactical decision, electing to take the ball.
“I wanted to know exactly what our defense needed to do,” Lisher said. “This was a tough physical game, especially up front.”
Free State scored on the first play of overtime on a 10-yard run by senior running back Stan Skwarlo and, after a penalty, senior Alex Trent added the placement.
The Lancers then had their turn from the 10-yard line, but on the first play senior quarterback Christian Blessen was tackled for a 4 -yard loss. Senior Luke Taylor made three yards on second down, but Blessen’s third and fourth down passes fell incomplete.
“This was a huge win for us,” Firebirds senior quarterback and defensive back Joe Dineen said. “We knew it would be a dogfight.”
The Lancers were their own worst enemy in this game, losing three fumbles and having a pass intercepted.
The first mistake came on their second play from scrimmage on a bad pitchout by quarterback Christian Blessen. It was recovered by Free State senior linebacker Lucas Werner at the SM East 14.
On the next play, senior quarterback Joe Dineen found senior wide receiver Blake Winslow in the left flat. He raced into the end zone with 9:38 left in the first quarter.
The Firebirds added a 25-yard field goal by senior Alex Trent as the first-half clock expired.
In the second half, the Lancers scored on their second possession, moving 66 yards in 14 plays with Blessen sneaking into the end zone from the 1 with 2:38 left in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, SM East had a third and 1 at the Firebirds‘ 31 when Blessen fumbled. Then, facing a third and 2 at their own 49, senior fullback Luke Taylor lost the ball.
“This was a defensive battle,” Lisher said. “We just made enough plays on offense to win the game.”
The loss was the first of the season for the Lancers, leaving both teams with 5-1 records.