Lee’s Summit West and Raymore-Peculiar have a recent history of close games, and both teams were smarting from disappointing losses the week before.
All the ingredients for another nail-biter, right?
West got its bounce-back Friday night, and Ray-Pec was bounced again, this time 41-7 in a Suburban Gold Conference game at Panthers Stadium.
“We’re doing a little soul searching right now,” said Ray-Pec head coach Tom Kruse, whose team lost at Lee’s Summit North 65-27 the week before. “We’re dealing with a little adversity, and we’ve got to find a way to come back from it. Our goal is to get better by (Weeks) seven, eight, nine. I think we will. I think we’re going to be OK.”
Once the West offense got going on its second drive, the Panthers found it difficult to stop the Titans. West finished with 315 total yards of offense while holding Ray-Pec to 206 yards.
After struggling for yardage in a 19-6 loss to Blue Springs the week before, West coach Vinny Careswell appreciated the change against Ray-Pec.
“Well, I think our offense got rolling,” Careswell said. “I think we reflected on kind of being stymied by Blue Springs a little bit, and coach (Sterling) Edwards, our offensive coordinator, got after it and had a good game plan for tonight.”
West running back Phillip Brooks ran for 54 yards on 11 carries, but scored twice by other means. Late in the first quarter, West quarterback Ben Kobel threw a backward pass to receiver Sammy Cooper, who found Brooks open on the right side for a double-pass and a 14-0 lead. And with 4:04 left in the second quarter, Brooks returned a punt 95 yards for another score, pushing the lead to 21-0.
Kobel and Cooper both took snaps at quarterback and combined for 51 yards in the air in the first half. Kobel hit Cade Clemons on a slant from the 7 to make it 28-0 with 28 seconds before halftime.
The Panthers went four-and-out on their first four drives of the game and had a hard time throwing the ball. Quarterback Noah Durham completed nine of his 18 attempts on the night for 124 yards, 89 of which came in the last four minutes of the game when the Panthers finally got on the board with a 32-yard completion to Zaire Hardin down the middle.
“Offensively, we just never could get anything going,” Kruse said. “The thing was, we felt like they kept six in the box, and we thought we could run the football. And I give credit to West, they’re a good football team.
“We also shot ourselves in the foot with bad snaps and penalties. Those are things we can control, and we didn’t do a very good job of controlling them.”
The very first play from scrimmage for Ray-Pec went awry with a bad snap.
When the Panthers moved the ball in the first three quarters, they did most of it on the ground. Chris McKinzy, Jr. racked up 72 yards on 20 carries.
While the Titans sustained some long drives, they also made some big plays.
Kobel got the Titans on the board with a seven-yard pass to Trevor Kardell on a nine-play, 51-yard drive. In the third quarter, Kobel scrambled to keep the play alive, hit Mario Goodrich, who cut across the field for a 58-yard catch-and-run touchdown to keep the foot on the gas and put West up 34-0.
Last year in Week 3, the Panthers almost blew a 21-0 lead at Titan Stadium, but won 42-35. In district play, the Titans got revenge, 20-13.
“They’ve always been battles back-and-forth,” Careswell said. “Yeah, you think about those games last year. That playoff game was awesome—wide open and crazy. Very happy to come in here — this is a tough place to play — and get a win.”
Cooper kept piling it on in the third quarter. After dropping the snap from the 5, he recovered and made it 41-0 with a pass to Jackson Galloway.
Cooper finished the night five-for-six passing for 61 yards. Kobel threw for 112 yards on 11-for-16 passing.
“(Cooper is) a good kid, and he’s only a sophomore,” Careswell said. “We brought him in all three games to spot Kobel, and he’s a weapon. He can throw the ball. He can run it, and he can catch it, so he’s got to be on the field.”
West, 2-1 overall and in the conference plays host to Lee’s Summit North at 7 p.m. Friday. Ray-Pec (1-2, 0-2) travels to Rockhurst.