Trojans triumph on strong finish

Lori Houk/Special to PrepsKC

By SJ Munoz PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: September 16, 2016 - 11:37 PM

Park Hill rattled off 27 straight points turning a back-and-forth affair into a one-sided 34-21 win over Lawrence Free State on Friday night at Park Hill District Stadium.

The Trojans racked up 529 yards of offense as they improved to 3-2 on the season.

"We felt like we had a great game plan and thought as long as we stuck with it we could turn the tide," Park Hill head coach Josh Hood said. "We used the momentum of that big field goal before half, made a lot of adjustments and the kids did a great job of overcoming adversity, which we hadn't done the last several weeks."

Big plays allowed Free State to take the lead on two occasions in the first half, however Park Hill was able to find an almost immediate response each time.

The Firebirds put up the first points of the game on a perfectly executed reverse punt return. Senior Zack Sanders took it to the house giving Free State the 7-0 lead with 2:20 left in the first.

The Trojans needed just over one minute to even the score as Dorian Clayton's 12-yard rushing TD tied the game with just 1:01 to play in the first.

Free State's Zion Bowlin got loose on a 31-yard scamper to put the visitors from Lawrence back on top (14-7).

Park Hill's answer came even quicker this time as a kick return to the 40, followed by a 60-yard TD strike from quarterback Billy Maples, who completed 18 of 25 attempts for 305 yards, to junior Ronnie Bell tied things back up at 14, just 18 seconds later.

The Trojans took their first lead of the game in the closing seconds of the first half as senior Parker Sampson booted a 51-yard field goal with just four seconds to go in the half and Park Hill led 17-14 at halftime.

Park Hill's momentum carried into the third quarter with Sampson drilling another field goal at the 9:36 mark and Maples throwing his second score. The 93-yard TD bomb from the Trojans' junior signal caller to senior Quinton Harris made it a 27-14 advantage for Park Hill.

The lead grew to 20 (34-14) with just over nine minutes left in the game on Clayton's 26-yard rushing touchdown on 4th-and-1. The Park Hill junior running back, who was returning from injury, rushed for 222 yards and two scores on 29 attempts.

"Our coaches do a lot to help us prepare for these type of situations," Clayton said. "My front five took the game into their hands and I just followed them into the end zone. We have great players on both sides of the ball and when we're all clicking we're a hard team to stop. Our coaches preach focus and if they never have to coach effort and attitude we'll win games."

Free State (1-2), which generated 288 yards offensively, ended their scoreless drought with a Jax Dineen rushing TD with 5:31 to go in the game to account for the final margin.

The Trojans hit the road next week as they travel to Lee's Summit West (3-2) in Suburban Gold League action while Free State plays on the road for the third straight week with a game against Shawnee Mission Northwest.