Hill, Lions race past Jaguars
Lansing piles up 520 yards of offense, earns share of KVL crown with 42-6 win
A year had passed, but Chris Hill remained haunted by his breakthrough performance as a running back.
Stepping in for injured starter Kyle Grape, Hill exploded for 179 yards rushing against Mill Valley last year. He never reached the endzone, however, and Lansing High lost the game.
"It hurt a lot to lose that game," Hill reminisced. "And I just felt like this team really wanted to beat them. We had something to prove."
Consider Hill's Friday night effort - 210 yards rushing and two touchdowns - to be a bit of redemption. In addition to having the best night of his career, he got the result he and his teammates wanted as Lansing romped to a 42-6 victory at Frank Graham Field.
The win - paired with Bonner Springs' 57-12 victory over Immaculata - assured Lansing of at least a share of the Kaw Valley League championship. Perry-Lecompton defeated Piper on Friday, 14-7, and remains in a three-way tie with LHS and Bonner atop the standings. A Perry loss to Tonganoxie on Oct. 12 would give Lansing the championship outright.
Perry handed Lansing it's only loss in week two, but the Lions won four straight to climb back into the league race and ultimately secure a piece of the crown Friday night. LHS coach Bill Pekarek said he was proud of his team for rallying after the early loss.
"We had to fight back and get a second chance," he said. "Our guys fought back and got themselves into this situation, and we were telling them today, 'Here it is. You fought back. You could've given up, but you kept fighting and got yourselves a chance to get to the league title. Let's get it now.
"I'm very proud of them that they came out tonight and put it on (Mill Valley) and got a piece of the title."
Despite what the lopsided final score indicates, the victory didn't come easily for Lansing. In fact, the score was just 7-0 at halftime. The Lions scored on their first possession of the game when Bobby Hauver connected with Stephen Didde for a 23-yard touchdown.
The Lions put together a few more extensive drives during the first half, but they turned the ball over three times before intermission.
"It was 7-0 at the half; we're not very proud of that," Pekarek said. "I thought we could've had 21 or 28 maybe."
Although the Lions didn't take care of the ball early, they didn't pay for the mistakes because their defense picked up the slack. They held speedy running backs Nick Woods and Shawn Stene in check while containing the Jaguars' limited passing game. A pair of first-half sacks by LHS senior Brendan Becker helped keep Mill Valley off the board.
"We had a good practice this week, and we had a good game plan," Becker said of the defensive strategy. "The defense really stepped it up : backers, linemen : we just worked hard and we achieved it."
Mill Valley appeared to take momentum early in the third quarter when, after a Woods interception on Lansing's opening drive, the Jaguars marched inside the Lions' 20 before the drive stalled. On the first play of the ensuing possession, Hill broke a 67-yard run. Fullback Brad Terron then rumbled for six yards, and Hauver capped the drive with a touchdown on a quarterback sneak from seven yards out.
The Lansing defense forced a quick three-and-out, and then the Lions made a three-play, 57-yard drive that was capped by a 20-yard touchdown by Hill. Suddenly the lead was 21-0.
The Jaguars got on the board on the first play of the fourth quarter when Tanner Rainbolt hit Stene down the sideline for a 60-yard touchdown, but it was the only offensive spark the Jags had all night. LHS senior Justin Smith blocked the extra-point attempt.
Ninety seconds later the Lions scored again. This time it was Terron storming into the endzone from 29 yards out. Matt Robbins' extra point made it 28-6 with 10:18 to go.
Hill added a 43-yard touchdown run with 5:26 left, and backup quarterback Cameron Trowbridge scored on a rollout from 14 yards out in the final minute to cap the victory.
The second-half eruption marked the most dominant offensive half of the season for Lansing. So what was the spark?
"In the locker room at halftime all the seniors just called everybody out and said we weren't going to lose at home, and we definitely weren't going to lose to Mill Valley again," Hill said. "We came out and the line blocked great and it just ignited : it exploded."
Hill found plenty of room to operate as linemen Nick Brungardt, Becker, Zach Robinson, Mycol Bowen and Cody Rush blew open hole after hole. Their effectiveness and consistency allowed the Lions to mix things up as Terron picked up 73 yards and Hauver rushed for 63.
Hauver also had plenty of time to pass. In addition to Didde's score, Hill caught a pass for 25 yards and Kevin Johnson had three catches for 43 yards.
"Our offensive line has been doing a better job each week," Pekarek said. "I think every week we've gotten better. We have some experience up front, and that helps us."
The Lions had their most productive game of the year on both sides of the ball. They piled up 520 yards of offense and limited the Jaguars to just 151. Woods was the biggest threat, but he was largely contained and had 83 yards on 20 carries.
The Lansing victory also snapped a six-year losing streak to Mill Valley.
"It's very special," Becker said of the skid-snapping win. "Six years ends now. It feels good."
Lansing moves to 5-1 overall and in the KVL. Mill Valley drops to 4-2 and has now lost two straight. Both teams begin Class 5A district play next week. Lansing travels to Shawnee Heights. Mill Valley plays host to Bishop Miege.
- A week after scoring three touchdowns two of them on defense and recording a safety, LHS senior Justin Smith dazzled again on the defensive side. He blocked an extra-point attempt, had an interception that he returned 27 yards and he recorded nine tackles.
- Brad Terron led Lansing with 11 tackles. David Dickson added nine and Brendan Becker had eight stops to go with his pair of sacks.
- Penalties were kept to a minimum by both teams. Lansing had two for 15 yards and Mill Valley had four for 37 yards.