SM East falls in Kansas 6A title game
By Jim Bradford PrepsKC Senior Writer
TOPEKA, Kan. — Shawnee Mission East had their share of close games go there way this year.
Unfortunately, that trend didn’t continue Saturday afternoon in the Kansas Class 6A state title game in Topeka.
The Lancers fell behind 14-0, battled back to tie the game twice in the second half, but eventually fell to Derby, 28-21 at Yager Stadium.
“These kids are incredible,” said East head coach Dustin Delaney. “No one really gave us much of a chance again this team today.
“We kept answering them and our kids knew they were never out of it.”
The Lancers fell behind 21-14 late in the third quarter, but put together a nice, seven-play, 61-yard scoring drive midway through the fourth quarter that tied the game at 21 with 7:06 to play.
The Panthers and Lancers then traded a pair of punts before Derby took advantage of a seemingly back-breaking 35-yard punt return from Travis Young to set themselves up with a first down at the Lancers 24 with 2:38 to play.
From there it didn’t take them long to punch it in. It took all of six seconds.
On the first play, Derby quarterback Jeremy Dunham found Caleb Arnold right across the middle for what would be the game-tying touchdown.
“The safety was dropping over to DeAndre (Goolsby) and Caleb came open up a little later in the play,” Dunham said. “I actually threw it a little high and he was able to go up and get it.”
The Lancers were burned by three lost fumbles and an interception on Saturday as they took the first for a state title for the first time in school history.
“They are so good and in a game like this, there’s a razor-thin margin for error,” Delaney said. “I’m just so proud of them.”
The Lancers had one last chance, getting the ball back with 1:17 to play, but their third fumble of the game on a second down play gave the ball back to Derby and the game was pretty much over at that point.
With the win, the Panthers captured the school’s second state title and their first since they won the championship in 1994.
‘I’m so proud of these guys,” Clark said. “We haven’t been in too many tight games this year. We might have thought that if we would be in a tight game like this, it would be SM East that would have the edge, since they’ve been in a lot of close game this year.”
After taking a 14-7 lead into the locker room, the game was tied midway through the third quarter when East’s Gunnar England hooked up with Alec Dean from 37 yards out. It was their second touchdown of the day.
Derby reclaimed the lead 21-14 with a couple of minutes left in the third quarter when Dunham hooked up with Tim Williamson from 41 yards out on a third-and-long play.
“We knew this was going to be a four-quarter battle,” Delaney said. “We knew they would score and we knew we would score, too.
“We had our shots, but we just get the job done.”
The Lancers were able to tie the score once more with seven minutes to play when Ryan Carter scored from 17 yards out to tie the game at 21.
East was able to do exactly what they wanted to in the first quarter. Sort of. They held Derby to three three-and-outs on their only three possessions, but the Lancers coughed the ball up twice, ending a pair of drives that looked promising from the outset.
Their misfortunes kept up in the early moments of the second quarter when Goolsby returned a Lancer punt 31 yards, setting Derby up with a first down at the East 20-yard line. Five plays later, Dunham called his own number, going in from four yards out to put Derby up 7-0.
East went three and out on their next possession before handing back to Derby after a punt. East looked to have Derby pinned on a third and long at their own 41, but Dunham then hooked up with Goosby on a 22-yard completion down the seam to keep the drive alive.
The Panthers scored five plays later on a Tyler West 9-yard touchdown run. Suddenly, nine minutes into the second quarter, East found themselves down 14-0.
Things didn’t get better for the Lancers on their very next possession.
A personal foul penalty backed the Lancers up deep in their own end, to the 12. Then, their fortunes turned in a hurry.
On the very next play, a toss to Luke Taylor off the right tackles, Derby was whistled for a face mask penalty and a personal foul tacked onto the end. The 20-yard penalty gave the Lancers a first down at the 32.
Two plays later, Englund hooked up with Dean for a 62-yard touchdown to slice the Derby lead in half after the point after.
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