BLHS falls short after forcing overtime
How does a football team gain just 105 yards, give away three turnovers, not score until four minutes remain in regulation and still almost win a game?
It takes an outstanding defensive performance, and that's just what Basehor-Linwood got Friday night. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, it wasn't quite enough, as they fell to Lansing, 13-6 in overtime.
The BLHS defense was riding a wave of momentum after shutting out Clinton a week earlier and was nearly as dominant against the Lions. In fact, BLHS coach Steve Hopkins gave his defense higher grades for its work against Lansing.
"It was the best game of the year by far, and it really wasn't even close," Hopkins said. "They rose to the occasion over and over and over again."
The Bobcats' defense forced three turnovers and made 12 tackles for loss, including two sacks by Kevin Marshall and one by Scott Ogilvie. The Bobcats hurried Lansing quarterback J.T. Collins nearly every time he dropped back to throw. Against a less mobile quarterback they may have had seven or eight sacks, but the Lions' senior was usually able to scramble around long enough to at least throw the ball away.
"We had scouted them well and had some things we thought we could do to get in the backfield and pressure the quarterback," Hopkins said. "Give Collins credit, he ran around and ran around and was able to make plays."
One of those plays was the game's first score. Near the end of the first quarter the Lions faced a fourth down from the BLHS eight. Collins faked a hand off and dropped back to pass, but couldn't find a receiver. He rolled left with several Bobcats in pursuit and kept the play alive until tight end Joe Kohl came open in the end zone. The Lions couldn't convert the extra point, but Kohl's catch gave them a 6-0 lead that stood for much of the game.
The Bobcats offense simply never got on track Friday. Freshman quarterback Brandon Leppke and junior running back Bruce Tyner had combined for more than 200 yards against Clinton, but neither could duplicate that success against Lansing. Tyner ran 13 times for 10 yards and Leppke was 1-10 passing for 13 yards and two interceptions. Hopkins said he wasn't sure exactly why the offense struggled so much, but that an early injury to Andrew Stueckemann was part of the problem. Hopkins said Stueckemann was the team's quickest and most versatile lineman and that, without him, the play book had to be scaled down.
The Bobcats didn't move the ball consistently until Chandler Schaake got some time at running back and sparked a drive late in the third quarter. The drive started at the BLHS 20, but Schaake took his first carry around the left tackle for 14 yards, the Bobcats' longest gain of the night to that point. The sophomore gained 12 yards on his next three runs, and then Leppke bootlegged to the left for 16 yards, getting BLHS into Lansing territory. When Tyler Miles ripped off another 16 yards all the way to the Lions' 27, the Bobcats suddenly looked like they had Lansing's defense figured out.
"It was all the offensive line," Schaake said of the team's sudden success running the ball. "They made big holes, huge holes every time I ran. It was ridiculous."
According to Hopkins the offensive turnaround had less to do with the change to Schaake than with a new formation. He said his staff up in the press box had noticed that Kohl was busting up most of the Bobcats' plays and had devised a way to avoid him.
"We went to a formation that Coach (Bruce) Courtney recommended and we went away from their best player," Hopkins said. "Coach did a good job of recommending it and Anthony Pierce did a tremendous job of blocking as a wide receiver."
The Bobcats had all the momentum when Lansing's Kyle Grape was injured on Miles' run. But after Grape was helped off the field things went sour on the very next snap. Leppke fumbled the exchange and the Bobcats' best drive ended.
The defense came alive again, though, forcing a fumble and then blocking a punt on the next two possessions to set the Bobcats up for the tying score. With the Lions punting from their own 37, Jacob Schierbaum came off the end and got a hand on the ball, deflecting it all the way back to the 11, where David Theodoroff picked it up. Schaake then ran it 10 yards to set up Leppke for a one-yard touchdown plunge with 3:20 left. The Bobcats missed their chance to go ahead with the extra point when the snap bounced its way to the holder, Pierce.
The defense came up with two more stops to force overtime, but Collins threw a touchdown pass on the Lions' second play in the extra session. The Bobcats gained just one yard in their four overtime plays, with Leppke's last-ditch pass sailing high off Schierbaum's fingertips and then getting intercepted.
¢ Grape, the Lions' starting running back, was injured next to the BLHS sideline and Hopkins was the first person to rush out and tend to him. Grape, who hurt his knee, did not return to the game.
- Both teams had drives that were short-circuited by penalties. Lansing was penalized six times for 58 yards and Basehor-Linwood was penalized five times for 35 yards.
- Schaake carried six times for a team-high 37 yards and also attempted his first pass of the season on a trick play. It fell incomplete. Leppke carried five times for 20 yards and connected with Theodoroff for his only completion.
- For a preview of this week's battle at Tonganoxie, see Page 4B.