Go ahead and blame it on the rain.
How else do you explain eight lost fumbles in the final quarter of Lawrence High's 20-12 football victory over Topeka on Friday night?
For three quarters, both teams avoided turnovers in a steady drizzle at Haskell Stadium. A downpour the entire fourth quarter, though, was too much to overcome as Topeka fumbled the slippery football five times and LHS three -- all between the Lions' 25- and 35-yard lines.
LHS coach Dick Purdy, well equipped in rain gear, apparently didn't notice the waterlogged -- or mudlogged -- conditions.
``When you win those kind of games you never feel wet,'' Purdy said.
Purdy had plenty to smile about following the victory over the Trojans. The Lions rushed for a season-high 268 rushing yards, including 157 by fullback Tony Thomas.
Thomas broke loose for two long runs -- a 40-yard gain and 51-yarder -- to set up Lawrence's two touchdowns in the third quarter. His three-yard run with 8:20 left in the third quarter was the go-ahead score. Big plays have been lacking all season for LHS, 3-4 overall and 1-0 in district.
``We did a good job blocking and our quarterback did a good job reading the defense,'' Purdy said.
Because of the slush, LHS senior Dustin Myers swapped defensive positions in the fourth quarter. Myers, also an offensive tackle, moved from cornerback to defensive tackle. He started the season at defensive tackle before moving to the secondary in Week Four.
``We definitely want him on defense,'' Purdy said. ``It was a situation where we were better off with him at defensive tackle than cornerback. He has shown his versatility.''
Unlike last year when LHS suffered a first-round district loss to Topeka, the Lions still control their destiny for a state playoff berth.
``It gives us a chance to stay alive,'' Purdy said. ``You never know what is going to happen next week.''
Next for LHS is a road contest at Leavenworth. Kickoff is 6 p.m. at Abeles Field.
Before scoring 13 points in the third quarter against Topeka, LHS had been outscored 61-7 in that period. ... Lawrence's past three contests have been decided by eight points. ... LHS is now 50-1 in district since 1981. ... The Lions scored 20 points for the first time since a season-opening 29-15 win over SM North. ... LHS needs to win its final two games to avoid back-to-back losing seasons for first time since 1973 and `74.
-- Steve Rottinghaus' phone message number is 832-7152. His e-mail address is email@example.com.