Olathe North edges Free State

By Adam Sullivan PrepsKC Columnist
Posted: September 13, 2014 - 1:00 AM

If you made the trip to Lawrence Friday night for the Olathe North-Free State matchup it’s likely you left with one name etched into your mind. The game plan from North was simple get Venus Triplett the ball and boy the Eagles did that. Triplett rushed for 95 yards on 40 carries leading North to a 14-7 victory over Free State to improve to 2-0 on the season.

With the game tied at 7-7 with 1:27 left in the third quarter, Triplett led North on a 14 play drive lasting over seven minutes with several key runs that eventually paid off with a three yard touchdown run, his second on the night putting North ahead 14-7 with 6:46 left in the game.

“He did some things very well tonight,” said head coach Gene Wier “He made some key plays when we needed him the most.”

North struggled for much of the night offensively as the Free State defense forced multiple turnovers.  After opening the game forcing Free State to go three and out, Triplett muffed the punt being recovrered by the Firebirds. Seven plays later and Bryce Torneden found the end-zone on a seven yard touchdown run putting Free State ahead early 7-0.

On North’s first possession with 6:24 left in the first quarter as North quarterback Matthew Wright fumbled at the Free State 48 yard line which was recovered by Jay Dineen. Two drives later and the Eagles had the ball at the Firebird 22 yard line but again the Free State defense held strong forcing a turnover on downs.

“Their defense really played well tonight,” said Wier “Free State is so well coached and a tough team.”

Free State showed how tough they were with 1:26 left to play in the first half. North had the ball on Free State’s 2-yard line and failed on four consecutive plays to punch it into the end-zone and again turned the ball over on downs as Free State took a 7-0 lead into the half.

North would get the ball after the half but the Eagles still couldn’t quite figure out the Firebird defense. On its first possession   the Eagles again couldn’t convert on fourth down giving Free State the ball.

Luckily for North, their defense continued to bail them out again and again in the game. North forced Free State to punt giving the Eagles great field position at the Free State 49 yard line. This time the Eagles wouldn’t let their defense down as Chaz Burgess hit Jeighlon Cornell on a 26-yard touchdown pass tying the game at 7-7 with 2:54 left in the third quarter.

The difference in this game was clearly the North defense as they forced Free State to punt on each of its five possessions in the second half and held Free State quarterback Torneden to 22 yards passing off 2 completions in 14 attempts. Torneden managed 54 yards rushing with one touchdown.

“Our defense really carried us in the second half and played well throughout the game.” Said Wier

With the victory North improved to 2-0 on the year and will face Olathe South (2-0) next week. Free State dropped to 1-1 and will face rival Lawrence (1-1) next week in the annual “city showdown”.