BLHS defense, late touchdown key 21-14 win
Basehor-Linwood's 21-14 victory over Lansing on Friday, Oct. 12, actually began on Monday, Oct. 8.
The Bobcats wrapped up their most intense week of practice with a victory in the district opener and in doing so they snapped a two-game losing streak in which they were shut out in both games.
"The attitude all week was tremendous," BLHS coach Paul Brown said. "And before the game tonight you could see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices. The confidence was there and the determination was there, that said we were going to get this done some way was tremendous."
Senior tailback Matt Dukes agreed with Brown, and said that attitude definitely made the difference in the game.
"We had a great week of practice and we were just really intense all week long," Dukes said. "And then tonight, we got our offensive line back and we stepped it up even more plain and simple."
The win improved BLHS's record to 3-4 overall and 3-1 in Kaw Valley League play, but more importantly it kept their hopes alive for a league title, a district title and a trip to the playoffs.
Early on it looked like all of those goals might be in jeopardy.
On the Bobcats' first drive of the game, they were held three-and-out by a fired up Lansing squad and the scoring woes continued. Lansing followed its defensive stand with an 11-play, 70-yard scoring drive that culminated in a four-yard touchdown run by junior tailback Troy Medill that gave the Lions an early 7-0 lead. Dukes was very active on defense during the Lions' opening drive, and when they scored he got even more mad.
On BLHS's next drive, Dukes took the ball and willed his way down the field. He popped off a 13-yard run on the first play and then two plays later he sprinted 37 yards, weaving in and out of would-be tacklers, and was brought down at the BLHS 20-yard line.
"I thought Matt Dukes' leadership was outstanding," Brown said. "He stepped up the last couple of days of practice and he stepped up tonight, too. He ran hard. There were a couple of times that he had nothing and he cut back and just made things happen. It was just that tone he was one of the guys who set it and it just made things go well for us."
Three plays after Dukes' big run, the Bobcats faced a fourth-and-one from the Lansing 10-yard line. Brown elected to go for the first down and after quarterback Nick Verbenec was stuffed at the line, he rolled off of the pile and scampered in for the 10-yard touchdown.
A miscue on the snap for the extra point forced Verbenec to take off and run and after turning the corner around the right side he slid his way into the end zone to give the Bobcats the two-point conversion and an 8-7 lead.
"It was a big relief to get back in the end zone," Verbenec said. "Our backs were great tonight, our line was opened up holes and we just got back on track tonight."
The Bobcats went into the locker room ahead 8-7, and for most of the third quarter they kept that lead. With 6:30 remaining in the third, the Bobcats gained possession when defensive end Brian Creed stripped the Lansing ball carrier and recovered it at the 38-yard line.
Fourteen plays and 62 yards later, fullback Joey Barlow plowed across the goal line on the first play of the fourth quarter to give the Bobcats a 14-7 lead. The point after attempt failed and the Bobcats entered the fourth quarter with a 7-point cushion.
On Lansing's next drive the Lions answered when wideout Nick Ontiveros slipped behind the BLHS coverage and snagged a 34-yard touchdown pass with 8:39 remaining. The touchdown tied the score and set the stage for a dramatic finish.
BLHS took over on its on 35 and managed to gain a couple of first downs before ultimately having to punt. Lansing then took over with just over five minutes remaining but the Bobcat defense stiffened and forced the Lions to punt them the ball back.
"It's win or lose in that situation," safety Stephen Brown said. "You just have to take everything you have and put it on the field."
The change of possession continued when BLHS was forced to punt on their next possession. Charles Millison, however, launched BLHS's best punt of the season 43 yards and it pinned the Lions at their own 12-yard line.
"This was a great high school football game," Brown said. "They had some big plays they made and we had some big plays we made."
Perhaps the biggest play came when LHS quarterback Bryce Baker threw an off-balanced pass that was intercepted by Colby Reynolds.
"That was all Colby right there," Reynolds' secondary partner Joey Barlow said. "He's sealed a few games for us with a pick and tonight he gave us a chance."
The interception set the Bobcats up at the LHS 29-yard line with just over a minute to play. Barlow plowed ahead for 2-yards and then Verbenec fired two straight incompletions to set up a fourth down.
With 26 seconds remaining Brown elected to try a 44-yard field goal. In a light, but steady rain, Millison drilled the ball toward the uprights, but the 44-yard attempt fell less than four inches short. Millison, however, was roughed on the play by the Lansing defense the Bobcats gained 15-yards and a first down at the 14-yard line with 17 seconds left.
On the first play after the penalty, Verbenec rolled to his left, stopped and fired to the front corner of the end zone to Barlow. Barlow caught the ball right between the numbers and was drilled, but he hung on and with 8.6 seconds remaining the Bobcats went ahead 21-14.
"Going in to district with a win sets us up right where we want to be," Barlow said. "This was a sweet win."
The Bobcats will return home next week to play their second district game when they host Tonganoxie for homecoming.