A first time for everything
By Jim Bradford PrepsKC Senior Writer
The first time is always a little bit sweeter.
And the Shawnee Mission East Lancers left SM North District Stadium Thursday night with the sweet taste of victory — for the first time.
No, not this year. They are 2-0 after a 30-7 win over Olathe North. The first comes in the form of the first ever win over Olathe North. Ever.
“Yeah, that’s what our principal just told us,” said East senior Connor Relihan. “That’s pretty awesome.”
The Lancers performance Thursday night wasn’t too bad, either.
Quarterback Jordan Darling was 17-of-31 for 266 yards and three touchdowns. Relihan was a monster, hauling in nine passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns, rushing the ball twice for five yards, completing one pass for 25 yards, picking off one pass on defense and averaging 40 yards on five punt.
His biggest play came with 7:30 left to play in the third quarter and proved to be the dagger for the Lancers as they handed the Eagles their second straight loss this year and their sixth straight, dating back to last year.
After the Lancers had held the Eagles on fourth and goal from the 1-yard line just a couple minutes into the second half, Darling hit Relihan on a quick out to the right. After Relihan pulled in the pass, turned in front of the North sideline, then sprinted another 50 yards down the sideline for a 76-yard touchdown reception.
After the Lancers were staring at a potential two –point cushion, had North gone in to score five plays earlier, they were, instead, coasting to an easy win, up 23-7 midway through the third quarter.
Relihan went up for the ball a bit early, but came down with it and had a lot of green sitting in front of him.
“I jumped early,” he said. “And I was cramping up a bit on that play, too. Once I turned, I knew I had to keep going. I heard (the North defender) behind me. I just knew I had to beat him.”
“That was giant for us,” East head coach Chip Sherman said. “That turned things right around for us.”
Down 16-7 at the half, the Eagles looked like they were about to get back into the game, intercepting a Darling pass and returning it to the Lancer 4-yard line. After getting to the 1-yard line two plays later, the Lancer defense threw North’s Venus Triplett for a four-yard loss and took over at their own 5-yard line.
“That’s two weeks in a row,” Olathe North coach Gene Wier said. “We’re just not to that point yet. We definitely need to get there.”
The Eagles lost to SM Northwest in week 1 after having the opportunity to score late to take the lead. Instead, the turned the ball over the Northwest scored the other way.
The sixth-straight loss, dating back to last year, is the longest in Olathe North history.
“We just have to keep working for tomorrow,” Wier added. “We need to learn and that’s where the inexperience comes in.
“It’s going to take some steps to get to where we need to go. We need to do a better job coaching and a get a better feel for where we are going.”
The Lancers defense held the normally potent North running game to just 99 yards rushing and just 191 yards of total offense.
“The kids did a great job out there tonight,” Sherman added. “The defense really played well.”
Meanwhile, the Lancers rolled up 291 yards through the air and added another 112 on the ground.
East got on the board first with a 22-yard Will Humphrey field goal on their opening drive.
The Eagles answered with a score of their own, taking the lead at 7-3 after Cole Murphy went in from three yards out on the first play of the second quarter.
Relihan scored his first touchdown just two minutes later on a 17-yard pass from Darling as East took the lead for good. They added another touchdown midway through the second quarter when Darling hooked up with David Sosna from 25 yards out to give the Lancers a 16-7 halftime lead.
Patrick Blackburn capped the scoring for East when he rumbled in from 36 yards out with 6:34 left to play in the game.
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