It's not a mirage

Jason Lawrence/PrepsKC

By Jason Lawrence PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: September 26, 2015 - 1:10 AM

On a night when most of the Lee’s Summit North student section was clad in super hero costumes, it was quarterback Nate Webb and wide receiver Cameron Hairston who fastened their capes to lead the No. 9 Broncos (5-1) past Raymore-Peculiar (3-3), 20-14, Friday night at Bronco Stadium.

After mostly failing to connect through the first three and a half quarters, including a pair of overthrows by Webb on sure-fire touchdowns in the first half, the duo came to life just before the midway point of the fourth quarter — just when their team needed them most.

“It was really frustrating, especially because the long pass is definitely our big play. It has been the past two years,” said Webb, who finished 11-of-24 for 193 yards. “It’s tough to see that I’m throwing it barely too far. It’s really frustrating to know how close you are to not even having to be in this situation. It was frustrating, but we got things worked out in the second half.”

Video courtesy of Time Warner Cable Sports Channel

Following a defensive stand by the Broncos’ defense, which snuffed out a fake punt attempt near midfield on fourth-and-2, Webb found his junior game-breaker darting toward the end zone on a post pattern. Hairston bobbled the pass before hauling in the 35-yard score to tie the game at 7-all with 7:01 to play.

“I think (Hairston) is the best receiver in the state of Missouri,” Webb said. “We don’t have any doubt that he’s going to catch the ball. If he can get any space and I can lay it up there for him, he’s going to catch it, he’s going to come down with it and he’s going to score.”

With 1:53 to play, Ray-Pec recovered a fumbled at its own 23-yard line and went into the two-minute drill. After converting a big pass play to get into Broncos’ territory, Panther head coach Tom Kruse went back to his ground game, milking the clock down to just 2.3 seconds before brining on James Sappington to try a 44-yard field goal.

“We felt like we were in range,” Kruse said. “We were just trying to get a good spot on the field and for whatever reason, somebody flinched, something happened, we just didn’t down block on the edge and a guy came free. Those are the kinds of things that can’t happen because they can be costly in games like this.”

Lee’s Summit North senior linebacker Tyler Lovelace, who had an interception in the first half, came off the edge to block the kick and send the game to overtime — the third straight game for the Broncos that would ultimately be decided by a touchdown or less.

“We needed to do something to give us a spark,” Lee’s Summit North head coach Jamar Mozee said. “The defense, they did a lot of things to give us a spark, we just finally capitalized on that one.

“On the defensive side of the ball, they saved us time and time again.”

The Broncos took the ball first and on fourth-and-6, Mozee looked at the matchup and elected to go for it. His dynamic duo delivered, as Webb found Hairston with a dart in the back of the end zone.

“He’s a special talent,” Mozee said of Hairston. “It’s good to have him because we’re able to hit some of those plays. He came up big late. He really did.”

The Panthers answered as quarterback Kory Linaweaver pushed his way into the end zone behind a pile on his linemen. However, in double overtime, Ray-Pec came up empty as Sappington’s 21-yard field goal sailed wide right.

“We weren’t expecting that, let’s just put it that way,” Kruse said. “It happens, it’s part of the game.”

Two plays later, it was over. Webb rolled to his right and checked off his first read to find Hairston, who caught seven passes for 156 yards, streaking across the middle of the end zone, breaking off his post route to go toward his quarterback.

“Right before that the Ray-Pec coaches told the corner to watch the post, so I was like ‘Well, I guess I’ve got to run fast now,’” Hairston said. “I knew with (Webb’s) arm, if I got open just a little bit, he could put it on me.”

Despite two turnovers in the first half, the Panthers held a 7-0 lead at halftime, scoring on a 3-yard run by Baylee Custer, who finished with 118 yards on 31 attempts, on fourth-and-2 on the first drive of the game.

“We knew for us to have a chance, we’ve got to be able to run the football,” Kruse said. “I thought for the most part, we ran decent tonight. It was two really good defenses getting after it tonight.”

Lee’s Summit North hosts Columbia Battle (6-0) next Friday while Ray-Pec will host Blue Springs (1-5).