Shawnee Mission East running back Nigil Houston was so fast Friday night, his chinstrap could barely keep up.
Late in the second quarter of SM East’s 48-26 win over Lawrence, Houston juked a couple of defenders in the backfield and ran through contact towards the sideline. With one burst of speed, he was gone down that white line, his chinstrap dangling from his helmet and bouncing on his shoulder pad as he fled the defense.
That touchdown put the Lancers ahead of Lawrence, 27-12, with 2:50 remaining in the second half. Although the game had mostly been close to that point, Houston’s dash was a sign of things to come. SM East used a powerful running offense to take down fellow top-10 team Lawrence, on the Lions’ home turf. SM East came in as the No. 3 team in The Star’s big-class ranking, with Lawrence at No. 7
“They’re a great offense,” Lawrence head coach Dirk Webb said. “They’re averaging, I don’t know, 100 points a game. We knew what we had to do. We thought we were going to be able to get in a scoring match with them.”
SM East’s powerhouse offense stayed on track with what it has done all season: With the exception of its 26-20 loss to Rockhurst earlier this year, SM East has scored 48-plus points in every game. On Friday, they used five different running backs, two that scored touchdowns.
And SM East head coach Dustin Delaney’s only complaint afterwards was a sign of how dominant his team’s offense has been all year.
“Well, we had to punt once (tonight),” Delaney said. “I’m always disappointed if we have to punt.”
What initially looked like an offensive duel suffered a setback when dynamic Lawrence quarterback Dante Jackson went down with an injury late in the second quarter. Jackson had tossed a 60-yard touchdown pass to Ekow Boye-Doe to pull the Chesty Lions within 14-6. He later led the Lions deep into SM East territory, a drive which ended with an Angel Garcia 1-yard touchdown rush that cut the Lancers’ lead to 21-12.
But the two-point conversion attempt — during which Jackson was brought down for a loss — turned out to be Jackson’s last play. He had been limping through a couple plays before. According to Webb, Jackson suffered a high ankle sprain.
“Our defense did a great job on him,” Delaney said of Jackson. “We wanted him to run the football.”
After the Lions cut it to 21-12, Shawnee Mission East scored four straight touchdowns to make it 48-12 with 9:00 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Lancers used both power — with Milton Braasch chugging up the middle — and speed, with Houston dancing down the same sideline for two touchdowns, to put together a dominant win over Sunflower League rival Lawrence.
“It got out of hand quick,” Webb said of the course of the game following the close margin early.
“It was hard for us to get off blocks. There’s no secrets. You know they’re going to run that fullback up the middle. We could never get the chains in our favor.”