Despite early difficulties in stopping the Olathe North rushing game, a powerful second half performance from the Lancers secured a 23-22 comeback victory, putting their record to 4-0.
The Lancers began the game with a quick drive for a touchdown. Senior Christian Blessen led the team in new head coach Dustin Delaney’s flexbone offense. Several strong rushes by senior Luke Taylor brought the team within the five yard line. Taylor then rushed up the left side of the center of the field for the first points of the game.
Olathe North brought out their offense with two major threats: junior running back Venus Triplett and junior quarterback Cole Murphy. Triplett is third in the Sunflower League in rushing yards. Murphy is second in passing yards and seventh in rushing yards. Murphy and Triplett handled the ball for a majority of the game, with an especially explosive start.
The Lancers’ defense was unable to stop Triplett and Murphy’s rush game in Olathe North’s first possession. Triplett was able to push the ball for solid rushes down the sidelines. After leaping to dodge a shoestring tackle, he made a 30 yard run for the first Olathe North touchdown.
The Lancers were unable to answer and Olathe North took advantage of good field position off of the kick return to score another touchdown. Triplett led the charge in rushing, and Murphy used the defense’s hyper-focus on Triplett to run on quarterback keepers.
The Lancers’ offense remained scoreless for the rest of the first half. Junior defensive end Kyle Ball pulled out a safety for his team by blocking a punt into the end zone. As the final quarter came to a close, the Lancers began to show more ability to stuff Triplett at the line of scrimmage.
The second half opened favorably for the Lancers. Junior Will Oakley recovered the ball on a Lancer kickoff, giving possession to East at the Olathe North 35 yard line. Several drives later, Taylor was able to drive up the middle for another touchdown. After a failed two-point conversion, the Lancers led 15-14.
Olathe North took the field for a quick touchdown drive. Sophomore Rider Terry began to shut down Triplett at the line of scrimmage, but Murphy capitalized on quarterback keepers. This gave Olathe North a drive down to the Lancer two-yard line, where Triplett dove into the endzone to put Olathe North up 22-15.
The following kick return put the Lancers on their own eight yard line. Junior Sam Huffman led the charge down the field, with a 30 yard run down the left side that helped to bring the Lancers within range of the endzone. But several plays later, Blessen fumbled on the Olathe North five yard line, giving the ball to Olathe North.
The field position was dangerous for Olathe North. The fourth quarter opened with senior Dominique Atkinson wrapping up Triplett in the endzone for a safety. The Lancers returned the ball to their own 40 yard line. After a facemask penalty on Olathe North, East was within Olathe North territory.
Blessen stepped up his throwing game and fired a pass from the 30 yard line deep into the middle of the endzone to senior Will Mitchell. Despite another failed two-point conversion, the Lancers led 23-22 with only a minute left in the game.
As Olathe North took the field, they were unable to get yards off of Triplett’s running game or Murphy’s passing. North was forced to try to convert on fourth down. When Murphy tried a pass up the middle, Oakley jumped over the receiver and batted down the pass. Possession was given to the Lancers, who took a knee to wind out the clock. The game concluded with a 23-22 victory for the Lancers.
The Lancers are now 4-0 on their season, and will play district rivals SM South. Watch the live broadcast of the game next week at 7 p.m. here on smeharbinger.net.