Backup quarterbacks always know they’re one play away from seeing the field. Shawnee Mission West senior Jonathan Shull experienced that axiom early in the second quarter of Friday’s Class 6A regional title game against Olathe South.
Shull and the Vikings found themselves in a tie game late in the fourth quarter — and needing 20 yards to prevent losing the game and ending the season.
Shull responded with clutch throw. Five plays later he scored from 2 yards out with 13.6 seconds to play, propelling SM West to a 26-20 victory at Shawnee Mission South District Stadium.
The Vikings, 6-4, have now won five straight and will play undefeated SM East next week.
Shull hadn’t seen meaningful varsity minutes since the second game of the season. He proved to be up to the task, especially in the fourth quarter after Olathe East, 7-3, tied the game 20-20 with 7:25 to play.
The Falcons missed a chance to take the lead when their extra point attempt was blocked.
SM West missed an even better chance to grab the lead after Isaiah Macklin returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards to the Falcons’ 8-yard line.
The Vikings chose to go for the touchdown on 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line, but Olathe South stood up Viking running back Tarik Watson short of the goalline.
Olathe South then turned to Brian Carpenter — primarily because he rumbled for 87 yards and a touchdown, all in the second half.
But SM West forced a punt after three Carpenter runs. And that set the stage for Shull with 3rd-and-21 from the Falcons’ 41 yard-line.
Shull stepped up and hit Israel Watson on a deep out for 21 yards and a first down.
“They said if that was open take the shot down field. That was pretty much my primary read right there. Israel made a great play on the ball,” a grinning Shull said. “Good throw, good catch, good protection, good everything. The ‘D’ saved it for us, so it was our turn to repay the favor for them.”
Shull’s go-ahead score was his second rushing touchdown of the game. He also threw for 109 yards, with a handful of momentum-swinging completions.
“When his time came, it came, and he did a great job with it. He didn’t do much wrong,” SM West coach Tim Callaghan said of Shull. “He did a great job. The stuff he does, I’m glad he got an opportunity, because he’s been working hard.”
Olathe South committed three turnovers in the first half. Running back DaeVonte Nance had a field day in the first meeting against the Vikings, rushing for well over 200 yards. He finished with 41 yards and a touchdown on Friday, all in the first half.
“The first half was horrible. We weren’t playing with any emotion, and I’m not sure exactly why,” Olathe South coach Jeff Gourley said. “If we’d have played the first half like we played the second half we’d have won that game. We didn’t, and Tim and the Vikings did a great job.”
SM West starting quarterback Adam Rellihan’s right arm was in a sling following the game. Callaghan didn’t know how severe the injury was, or Rellihan’s availability next week.
What is known: The Vikings have a five-game winning streak and a date with an undefeated rival next week.