Smith plays superhero as LHS edges Basehor
Senior scores three touchdowns, safety in 22-15 victory
Settle down, fantasy football players. You can't draft Justin Smith this week.
High school players aren't eligible for your fantasy team, although that's too bad because Smith, a Lansing High senior, would've been a goldmine with his performance Friday night in Lansing's 22-15 victory over Basehor-Linwood.
"By the league standards, it'd only be like 24 points," said teammate and avid fantasy football player Mycol Bowen. "But it should be worth like 2,000."
Smith accounted for all but two of the Lions' points with a safety and three touchdowns on a blocked punt, a long reception and a fumble recovery.
"I just did what my coaches told me to do," he said with a grin. "I tried to play my position as best as I could."
Lansing needed every last bit of Smith's effort to win its homecoming game because Basehor shut just about everybody else down. Senior running back Chris Hill had 118 yards rushing on 11 carries, but most of that yardage came on runs of 34 and 45 yards, and the Bobcats outgained the Lions 258-221 in total offense.
Early on it looked like it would be a big night for the Lansing offense. Chris Hill took a sweep for 34 yards on the first play, but after that the offense screeched to a halt. The Lions mustered just 68 more yards of offense in the half.
Fortunately for the Lions, their defense was ferocious early - specifically Smith. After forcing a three-and-out on Basehor's opening drive, Smith blocked Matt Murrell's punt and then picked it up in a scramble for a touchdown. Matt Robbins' extra point made it 7-0 with 7:38 left in the first quarter.
The Lions forced another three-and-out on the Bobcats' second possession, and this time a bad snap led to a safety by Smith.
After struggling early, the Bobcats adjusted.
"They were putting so many kids in the box and playing so tight with their linebackers and their defensive ends, so we felt like we had to at least throw it to spread them out a little bit," Basehor coach Steve Hopkins said. "We had some success, and then we were able to run the ball a little bit."
Quarterback Brandon Leppke started running on rollouts, and he balanced it out by sprinkling in passes to Travis Inlow, Tyler Miles, Chandler Schaake and Ben Zuk. The blend worked perfectly. Leppke connected with Schaake for a 25-yard touchdown early in the second quarter. The sophomore quarterback then found Miles for a nine-yard scoring strike with seven seconds left in the half. The Bobcats scored the two-point conversion when Leppke connected with Zuk for a sliding catch and took a 15-9 lead into halftime.
The underdog Bobcats returned to the field with an upset still on their minds, and for a long time it looked like they would hang on. They held the Lions to just four offensive plays in the third quarter while Leppke drained the clock with keepers, rollouts and passes to the flat. A 16-play drive that was aided by a roughing the kicker penalty allowed the Bobcats to take almost nine minutes off the clock before missing a 38-yard field goal attempt.
"We told our team at halftime we did not want to give them the ball back if we could," Hopkins said. "We needed long sustained drives and we just needed points, and unfortunately we couldn't get points at a couple of key times."
Lansing finally began its second offensive series of the second half with 10:37 left in the fourth quarter. Hill busted a 45-yard run on the first play of the drive and later added a 14-yard rumble that gave LHS first-and-goal at the 10. It was the Lions' most successful drive of the game to that point, but a fumble killed the momentum.
After forcing a punt, however, Lansing got the ball back with 4:33 left in the game. On the first play, quarterback Bobby Hauver fired a pass down the right sideline that Smith pulled away from a defender.
"That pass : I'm not sure the ball was really intended for him," LHS coach Bill Pekarek said. "But he made a play on it, and then broke a tackle and just outran everybody.
Smith sprinted into the endzone for a 64-yard score. Robbins' extra point sailed wide left, but the game was tied at 15-15 with 4:21 to go.
The Lions were reenergized, but the Bobcats weren't ready to let them have the game. Blending runs and quick passes, the Bobcats milked nearly three minutes off the clock while marching to the Lansing 40-yard line. On third and six, Leppke slashed through the middle and stretched for a first down while being tackled. As he fell, the ball popped loose and into the hands of - who else? - Smith. He dashed 63 yards to the endzone for the go-ahead score with 1:34 remaining.
Basehor had one final opportunity, but after driving to the LHS 40, Bowen sacked Leppke for an eight-yard loss. On the next play Hill intercepted a pass while falling out of bounds to seal the Lions' victory and send a majority of the standing-room-only crowd home happy.
After the game, Smith admitted he was impressed with the Bobcats.
"They had a lot of heart," he said. "They were 1-3 and had nothing to lose. They came out and tried to sock us in the mouth, but we responded."
As for his team, Smith said he saw plenty to be proud of.
"Pressure either makes you or breaks you," he said. "This was pressure, and we won."
Lansing (4-1) next plays host to Mill Valley (4-1) on Friday, Oct. 5. Basehor (1-4) will play host to Tonganoxie (1-4) in a homecoming showdown at BLHS.
- Leppke finished with 60 yards rushing on 21 carries for Basehor. He also completed 16 of 24 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
- Lansing had four plays for one yard of offense in the third quarter.
- Kevin Johnson caught two passes for 20 yards.
- Smith led Lansing with 13 tackles, Brad Terron had 11 and Bowen and Brendan Becker each had eight stops.
- Becker and Bowen each had a sack.
- Bobby Hauver completed five of nine passes for 95 yards and a touchdown.
- LHS seniors Griffin Davis and Brittany Shelton were named homecoming king and queen at halftime of the game.