Free State stops Shawnee Mission South

By Adam Sullivan PrepsKC Columnist
Posted: October 10, 2014 - 7:19 AM

Mother-nature was not cooperating with high school football teams that took the gridiron Thursday night. Two teams that battled each other and the rain were Lawrence Free State and Shawnee Mission South with the Firebirds outlasting the Raiders 21-6 in the last tune-up before districts.

The rain forced both teams to run different versions of the read option for most of the night with the occasional play action play thrown in. Free State coach Bob Lisher said the rain played quite a role in the game.

“It was huge,” Lisher stated. “We obviously had to do something’s differently tonight than we normally would. Overall it was a good win and it was nice to see us compete given the elements.”

Free State started quickly offensively despite the downpour as quarterback Bryce Torneden was able to evade Raider defenders for a 55-yard touchdown run with 9:56 remaining in the first quarter giving Free State a 7-0 lead, and they wouldn’t look back.

“We needed a quick strike,” said Lisher. “We struggled quite a bit last week and needed to really bounce back strong tonight.”

South struggled much of the night offensively as Free State looked dominant on defense. South’s troubles started early as on their opening drive Zach McQueen was intercepted by Free State’s Andrew Keating at midfield.

The Firebirds would make the Raiders pay for the early turnover as Torneden broke free for a 35-yard run on third and ten setting up a two-yard touchdown run by Torneden, his second on the night, putting Free State ahead 14-0 with 3:12 left in the first quarter.

Free State would keep the shutout heading into the half as their defense forced two more Raider turnovers to end the half. The first was a second interception by Keating, and then a fumble recovery as South was deep in Firebird territory.

The second half would go quick as Free State controlled the ball for much of the half electing to snap the ball with three seconds left on the play clock nearly each play.  The Firebirds would tack on one more touchdown as Torneden found Tye Carter for a 26-yard touchdown pass putting Free State ahead 21-0. SM South would add a late touchdown with two minutes remaining in the game.

Up next for Free State (3-3) is a tough district featuring Manhattan, Washburn Rural and Topeka.

“Our district is loaded,” said Lisher. “We have Washburn next week and we’ll have to come to play each week if we want to advance.”

For SM South (1-5) they’ll kick off district play next week against Blue Valley North.