One more last chance

Jason Lawrence/PrepsKC

By Jason Lawrence PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: September 11, 2015 - 11:35 PM

Trailing 27-25 with less than three minutes to play, Lee’s Summit head coach Eric Thomas saw his shot, and took it. Unfortunately for him, Lee’s Summit North defensive back Duane Hampton saw his shot as well and came up with the interception on an underthrown pass by Tigers’ quarterback Dalton Hill.

“Unfortunately, I was dumb with three minutes to go and threw the ball. I should have just kept running it,” Thomas said. “… I knew at some point in time I was going to have to take a shot, and I thought I had the shot. I thought we were doing it right, I took it early in the downs.”

Lee’s Summit’s defense rose to the occasion forcing a three-and-out, giving Hill and the offense one more shot with less than a minute to play, bailing out their head coach.

“It worked out, the kids fought back for me, bailed me out a little bit there and made some plays,” Thomas said.

Taking over at midfield with 34 seconds to play, Hill moved the offense down to the 29-yard line with 18 seconds left. From there, he took another shot — the shot that completed the comeback. Wide receiver Zach Mitchell broke free on a corner route and Hill lofted the pass into his arms, giving the Tigers their first lead of the game, 32-27, with 12.3 seconds remaining.

“I couldn’t even say how proud I was of the defense,” Hill said. “I thought, we’re supposed to win this game. We need to get the ball back to win this game. Thankfully, we got the chance and took advantage of it.

“I saw Zach had the kid beat, I just had to get it up and he was going to go get it. I couldn’t be more proud of everybody on my offensive line for giving me time to throw that ball.”

For Lee’s Summit North head coach Jamar Mozee, the words were hard to come by his after suffering their first loss of the season in a game Broncos held the lead in since taking a 7-0 advantage at the 6:36 mark of the first quarter on a 5-yard run by Chase Swisher.

“It hurts,” he said. “We just made some mistakes. We fought hard, you can’t single out one thing. We played hard. They did a good job coming back. It hurts.”

The Broncos (3-1) took a 20-6 lead into the locker room at half behind two touchdown runs from Swisher and a 40-yard fumble return by Sterling Swopes. The Tigers’ lone touchdown of the first half came early in the second quarter, a 2-yard run by Salvatore Garozzo.

When the two teams came out of the locker room, however, Lee’s Summit, which switched to a no-huddle offensive attack, came out with all the momentum despite turning the ball over twice in the first half.

“We got in the locker room and Coach Thomas challenged us whether we were going to put our tails between our legs,” Hill said. “… We took the challenge by the horns and went and got it.”

After converting a fourth-and-short to stay alive on the second half’s initial drive, the Tigers were forced to punt three plays later. A muffed punt by the Broncos gave the Tigers a second shot, and they took advantage of it.

That was huge,” Mozee said. “Momentum did shift. It was hard to get it back under control.”

Hill, who accounted for all four second-half touchdowns for the Broncos, hooked up with Trevor Fell on a bubble screen for a 2-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 20-12.

The Broncos had an answer, as quarterback Nate Webb found Cameron Hairston on fourth-and-two with a 47-yard touchdown pass to push the lead back to 27-12.

Lee’s Summit, however, wasn’t discouraged.

Hill connected with Fell again on the next possession, a 23-yard touchdown off a double move, and the lead was down to nine.

The Broncos turned it over on downs and Hill finished the ensuing drive on his own, running in from 1-yard out.

After forcing another three-and-out, Hill took his shot only to see Hampton come away with his second pick of the night.

“I thought we were going to be able to run it out,” Mozee said. “They stopped us. They made a play and stopped us. They beat us.”

Hill and the Tigers didn’t panic, though, and their good faith was rewarded as the escaped Bronco Stadium with the win to improve to 3-1 on the year.

“We did everything to kill ourselves that game, both sides of the ball, just crucial mistakes,” Thomas said. “The kids fought, they persevered. We asked our seniors before the game, ‘What do you want this game to be?’ I think they showed up at the end there, and made some plays.”

Lee’s Summit hosts Blue Springs (0-4) next week, and Thomas said a win like Friday night’s could propel his team to new heights as the season progresses.

Mozee’s Broncos, however, will go back to the drawing board next week as they travel to Lee’s Summit West (4-0).