When Blue Valley fell behind early in the third quarter, it hit Olathe North with a flurry of plays that left the Eagles dazed Friday evening in a Kansas 6A substate championship football game at Blue Valley District Stadium.
The Tigers scored 29 straight points, turning a five-point deficit into an impressive 43-19 victory. The win puts Blue Valley, 10-2, in the 6A state championship on Nov. 28 at Emporia State.
“We just kept fighting and played as a team, and that was the key,” said Blue Valley senior quarterback Colton McCumber, who threw three touchdown passes and ran for another one.
“We are the first team ever at Blue Valley to go to the 6A championship game.”
The Tigers, though, do have a great championship pedigree. They have won six Kansas 5A state titles. They showed that form in the third quarter, when they trailed 19-14.
Olathe North appeared to have the momentum early in the third quarter. Trailing by one at halftime, the Eagles took the kickoff and swiftly went 75 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Eagles scored on a 32-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Matt Wright to senior wide receiver Isaiah Simmons. Olathe North went for two and failed.
Still, Simmons looked unstoppable. He already had 115 yards and two touchdowns on just three receptions.
But the Tigers had an answer. Blue Valley went on a 13-play, 85-yard touchdown drive that ended on a 10-yard pass from McCumber to senior Taylor DeBey. It was the second time the two hooked up for a touchdown.
“That was a huge drive,” McCumber said. “We just kept fighting and kept pushing. I trusted my linemen, and they kept pushing.”
Despite failing on the two-point conversion, Blue Valley was back in front 20-19. The key play of the game came next. Blue Valley placekicker Doug Kellerman kicked it high and a little short. It caught the Eagles by surprise. Blue Valley recovered at Olathe North’s 27.
“He is a great kicker,” McCumber said. “I fully trust him.”
It only took the Tigers five plays to score. Olathe North’s defense was exhausted. Senior Tigers running back Will Evans scored on 12-yard run with 1:48 left in the third quarter. The extra point increased Blue Valley’s lead to 27-19.
“Anytime you have plays like that in these types of games, they are huge momentum swings,” Blue Valley coach Eric Driskell said. “They (the Eagles) are a good football team. They are well coached and have explosive athletes. When you can get an extra possession, you can really be excited about that.”
The Tigers didn’t let up in the fourth quarter. McCumber scored on a 30-yard touchdown run, giving Blue Valley a 34-19 lead with 10:43 left in the game. The Tigers then got a safety.
“Our defense was tremendous,” Driskell said. “Our kids on defense played lights out. They played every play like it was their last.”
A few minutes later, Evans scored his second touchdown on a 56-yard run, which gave him 195 yards in 21 carries at that point. It also sealed the win.