Defense sparks LHS to 20-3 victory against Basehor
Kohl’s 18 tackles, two fumble recoveries lead the way
The Lansing High football team's offense received most of the praise during high-scoring victories the past two weeks.
Friday night's game against Basehor-Linwood was the exact opposite.
This time the offense coughed the ball up twice in the first half and struggled to find the end zone. This time it was the defense that rose up time after time to deliver big stops and force timely turnovers.
The result was another Lion victory.
Lansing 20, Basehor 3.
The Bobcats (2-6 overall, 2-5 Kaw Valley League) used last year's 37-34 loss as motivation heading into this year's contest, and during the first two quarters they played like a team on a mission.
On their first drive of the game they gobbled up almost eight minutes of clock as they marched 56 yards to the Lansing one-yard line. On fourth-and-goal, Will Peterson dove up the middle but fumbled on the goal line. Lansing linebacker Joe Kohl recovered the ball and returned it all the way to the 37-yard line.
"That was real important," Kohl said of the fumble and ensuing momentum swing. "They were going in to score, and that would have hurt us. I was just in the right spot at the right time."
Lansing (6-1, 5-1) was unable to use the momentum from the defensive stand. After marching to the Basehor 15, quarterback Matt Warner was sacked and fumbled the ball. The Bobcats made little progress on their next drive, thanks in part to two tackles by Kohl and a sack by Ryan Robbins.
On the Lions' next possession, however, fullback Lance Fink fumbled the ball on the LHS 36-yard line. That led to the Bobcats' lone score of the game, a 35-yard field goal by Chris Morrison that gave BLHS a 3-0 lead with 3:17 left in the second quarter.
Apparently that was enough to light a spark under the offense, because Lansing wasted no time responding. It took the lead just 85 seconds later when Warner connected with tight end David Kern in double coverage for a 24-yard touchdown reception. The extra point attempt failed, but LHS took a 6-3 lead into halftime.
"They left me open and I was there," Kern said of his ability to break free for his fourth catch of the first half.
Lansing was unable to build much momentum on its first drive of the second half as it stalled out at the Basehor 32-yard line, but Jeff Slater's punt proved to be the most lethal part of the drive. He pinned the punt on the one-yard line, and Basehor's Todd Bell promptly fumbled on the next play. Kohl recovered, giving Lansing first-and-goal at the one-yard line. Warner then ran the ball in for a touchdown. Robbins' extra point gave LHS a 13-3 lead with 8:32 left in the third quarter.
"Our defense really stepped up in the second half and shut them down, and then offensively we started to get in a little groove," LHS coach Bill Pekarek said.
From that point on the Lansing defense took over. Robbins and Logan Ryan combined for a quarterback sack on the first play of the ensuing drive. Kohl and defensive end Steve Lillard both recorded tackles for a loss. Then Robbins broke through for another sack.
The Lions had a three-and-out on their next drive, but then forced the Bobcats to punt after Robbins had another sack. Lansing's defense simply was too tough for Basehor to drive against.
LHS added an insurance touchdown when Slater scored on a four-yard run with 37 seconds left in the game.
Although there were many aspects of the game that weren't pretty, Pekarek said he was pleased that his team pulled together and earned the win. In doing so, the Lions took the first step toward defending their district crown.
"This is where we wanted to be," Pekarek said. Step one is where we wanted to be after the first game, and we completed that step."
The next step in district play with be a 7 p.m. Friday game at Piper. The Priates are 2-5 this season. They lost their district opener Friday night to Bishop Ward, 34-14.
"Piper's been known to throw the football a lot, so we know that we might be in a passing game," Pekarek said. "That's OK, because I think most of the time we play pretty good pass defense. We've got a good pass rusher with Robbins, and Logan Ryan's been getting some sacks and Joe Kohl's been getting in there and getting some sacks. We've been doing a fairly good job of getting pressure on the quarterback."
Although the Lions will have to try to keep the Pirates' passing game in check, their biggest area of concern may be focus. Kern said their intensity level wasn't where it needed to be in either of the past two games, and he said that needed to change next week if they want to pick up a sixth straight victory.
"(It'll take) a lot of enthusiasm," he said. "We've got the talent to win. We've just got to get pumped up."
- Joe Kohl had a team-high 18 tackles against Basehor. He also recovered two fumbles.
- Ryan Robbins had 14 tackles and 4.5 sacks.
- Logan Ryan played despite having an injured back. He had eight tackles and a half-sack.
- Lance Fink had nine tackles, as well as a team-high 73 yards rushing on 12 carries.
- Jeff Slater had seven tackles, as well as eight yards rushing and a touchdown on two carries.
- Kyle Grape rushed 12 times for 53 yards.
- Matt Warner completed five of 10 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown.
- David Kern had four catches for 97 yards and a touchdown. His longest reception was for 29 yards.
- The Lions played without junior Kyle Miller. Miller, one of their top tacklers this season, dislocated his shoulder for the second time and might be out for the season.