Archive for Friday, October 15, 2004

Pekarek logs 100th win in 3OT thriller

October 15, 2004

— Lansing High football Bill Pekarek coach didn't think his players knew he was chasing his 100th career coaching victory Friday night when LHS battled Basehor-Linwood, but, oh yes, his players knew good and well.

And they made Pekarek sweat it out big time.

The Lions (5-2) rallied from two touchdowns down in the fourth quarter and gutted through three overtimes before disposing of the Bobcats, 37-34, in an edge-of-your-seat thriller.

"I've been to double-overtime, but I don't know if I've ever had one go into three overtimes," said Pekarek, whose squad won its fifth straight game. "Those games are really bad if you lose 'em, but they can really ignite your team if you win 'em.

"Our guys tonight really came together a lot closer, kept fighting, and it was a great team win. Our defense played tough when we had to, our offense got it going when we had to. There were just a lot of great plays in this game. I can't wait to see the film because it was a great game to watch especially if you're a Lansing fan."

Despite the 45-degree temperatures and chilly wind, players doused Pekarek with a cooler of ice water, cheerleaders held up a congratulatory poster commemorating the 100-victory mark, and a boisterous locker room celebration ensued. Then everyone ate some cake.

The celebration almost didn't happen, however. The very fact that Lansing was in the game in the fourth quarter is a tribute to the Lions' steady focus throughout the game, because they easily could have been shaken by Basehor's fast start.

The Bobcats (3-4) took a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game when quarterback Michael Armstrong slipped through the defense and broke off a 38-yard touchdown run for an early lead.

Lansing's first drive sputtered out after eight plays, but its defense held on Basehor's ensuing possession and wasn't fooled by a fake punt attempt. Then the Lions needed just three plays to tie the game. Junior quarterback Matt Warner's 40-yard touchdown pass to David Kern evened the score at 7-all.

Basehor built momentum on its next two possessions but failed to score either time. On its final possession of the half, however, the Bobcats orchestrated a six-play, 49-yard scoring drive to go back on top. They utilized a bit of trickery as backup quarterback Garrett Chumley threw a backwards pass to Armstrong who had just moved to tailback. Armstrong caught it and immediately fired a pass of his own to senior receiver Seth Lashbrook for a 40-yard score.

Still not shaken, the Lions attempted to counter moments before halftime. In less than a minute they drove 47-yards on five plays and then took two shots at the end zone. The first pass fell incomplete. The second was caught just inside the goal line by junior Ryan Robbins, but an ineligible receiver downfield penalty took the points off the board. A last-ditch pass as time expired fell incomplete and BLHS took its 14-7 lead into halftime.

LHS went three-and-out, five-and-out, and three-and-out on its first three possessions of the second half while Basehor bolstered its lead to 21-7.

The Bobcats seemed thoroughly in control of the game at that point after three quarters, but suddenly Lansing turned up its intensity and caused the momentum to swing in its favor.

The Lions put together an 11-play, 65-yard drive that ate up almost four minutes of clock. Junior running back Jeff Slater capped it with a five-yard dive up the middle that pulled them within 21-14.

Penalties backed up Basehor on its next possession before Robbins recovered an Armstrong fumble that gave LHS the ball on the BLHS 32-yard-line. The Lions went deep on their very first play and Warner found senior John Tytla for the game-tying touchdown. Basehor missed a 31-yard field goal and sent the game into overtime.

Throughout the extra period, the Lions' heart was evident. Play after play they made solid tackles defensively, blocked superbly on offense and executed plays to perfection.

"I thought we got tougher right there in overtime," Pekarek said. "They'd gain three or four yards on first down and then we'd stick 'em for no gain or maybe a couple-yard loss and put them in a passing situation."

Tytla nailed a 25-yard field goal in the first overtime period, Slater scored on a seven-yard run in the second extra period. Slater's three-yard plunge in the third overtime gave LHS the victory.

"I'll tell you what," Pekarek said, "I give a lot (of credit) to our kids. They stepped up and they really played their butts off."

Warner put together a gem of a game as he completed 11 of 23 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Slater had 121 yards of total offense as he rushed for 60 yards and caught four passes for 61 yards.

Basehor outgained LHS 388-296 in total offense but were thwarted numerous times in key situations by the Lions' gritty defense.

The victory moves Lansing to 1-0 in district play and sets up a critical showdown with Piper next Friday. The Pirates (3-4) also are 1-0 in district play after knocking off Bishop Ward, 36-7, in their district opener Friday night.


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