Once again, Lee’s Summit North used a goal-line stand to outlast Olathe Northwest during the Sunflower-Suburban Showdown, but this one felt considerably more tense.
After Drew Dumas scored on a 3-yard run to trim the Broncos’ lead to 24-23 with 34 seconds left, Ravens coached Chip Sherman opted for a winner-take-all two-point conversion try.
Lee’s Summit North preserved the one-point win by stuffing Dumas — a 217-pound hammer of a running back, who finished with 109 yards and all three ONW touchdowns — on the game-deciding carry.
Myles Craddock played the hero’s role for the Broncos, grabbing a handful of jersey and holding up Dumas until more defenders could wrestle him to the turf.
Last season, Lee’s Summit North (3-2) broke up a pass in the end zone during the closing seconds on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line in preserving a 21-16 win.
"It was almost identical," Broncos coach Jamar Mozee said. "This time they ran it. Last time they threw it. That was a little too close for comfort there. … It’s a big team, big running back. They did a good job. They held their mud. We kept them to one less point than we had, so the defense did a good job tonight."
Lee’s Summit North, which lost 45-24 against Lee’s Summit West last week, stumbled out of the gate against Olathe Northwest.
The Broncos managed one first down on their first two drives, while the Ravens (0-3) built an early 14-0 lead.
Lee’s Summit North then rattled off 24 straight points as the ground game found traction.
The comeback started when quarterback Christian Carter lobbed one over the top to Keyon Mozee — after five consecutive runs by three different ball carriers — near the end of the first quarter for the Broncos’ first touchdown.
Midway through the second quarter, John Eldridge, who piled up 63 yards on 14 carries, punched the ball in on a 1-yard run to cut the Ravens’ lead to 14-12 at halftime.
On Lee’s Summit North’s opening drive in the second half, Carter — who finished 5 of 7 passing for 37 yards with 13 for 41 yards on the ground — scored on a 2-yard run for an 18-14 lead.
But there was a moment late in the first half when seemed as if the Broncos missed an opportunity to seize momentum.
An overthrown pass from Olathe Northwest quarterback Brayden Koch, which Jaylen Hickles picked off, gifted Lee’s Summit North possession at the Ravens’ 34-yard line with 2:05 remaining before halftime.
After a 9-yard pickup on first down, the Broncos lost yards on two straight runs before Carter tossed his own interception on an overthrown pass as the opportunity was squandered.
"Just little things here and there that we’ve got to get cleaned up," Mozee said. "Just small mistakes that end up costing you."
Thankfully for Lee’s Summit North, it didn’t cost them in the end after Eldridge added a 2-yard touchdown late in the third quarter that pushed the lead to 24-14.
Ontario Russell’s fourth-quarter fumble on a punt return, which Cole Manning recovered for the Ravens at the Broncos’ 39 led to a Connor Boyd field goal that made it a one-score game and set up the tense final minute.
"The fumbled punt was huge," Mozee said, "and that’s something we need to grow up at. We need to understand time, understand situation. It was a huge mistake. Of course, they capitalized with a field goal. It was a one-possession game at that point when it was a two-possession game if we don’t do that and maybe drive or whatever. We’re growing up."
Lee’s Summit North milked more than 3 minutes off the clock after that field goal with 5:52 remaining, but Olathe Northwest almost made the most of its final chance.
The Ravens marched 64 yards on eight plays for the potential game-tying score before the Broncos’ defense stiffened with the game on the line.
Fittingly, Russell recovered the ensuing onside kick to atone for the earlier miscue and seal Lee’s Summit North’s victory.
The Broncos return to Suburban Gold Conference play next Friday against cross-town rival Lee’s Summit (2-3), which knocked off Olathe South 28-15 on Friday in another border-war battle.