Archive for Saturday, October 27, 2001

Lions triumph in finale - Lawrence 44, Topeka 0

LHS finishes 5-4

October 27, 2001

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— Rob Scott had an interception hat trick and nearly posted a three-spot on offense as well.

Chris Johnson had a touchdown hat trick the hard way.

Scott and Johnson, a couple of Lawrence High seniors, will have plenty to tell their grandchildren about their last night in a football uniform.

Johnson scored three times and Scott twice as the Lions punished Topeka High, 44-0, on Friday night at Moore Bowl.

"I'll never play football again and I just wanted to make the most out of it," said Johnson, a 5-foot-7, 151-pound wingback. "I just wanted to make it a special day so 10 years from now I can tell stories."

It took Johnson all of 15 seconds to lug the opening kickoff 87 yards for the Lions' first touchdown. Then on the last play of the first half, he grabbed a 37-yard touchdown pass from halfback Brandon McAnderson on a flea-flicker.

Finally, with 4:25 remaining in the third quarter, he started a scoring drive with a 25-yard punt return, then finished it with a 26-yard TD sprint.

"We knew it was our last game and Lawrence High is special," Johnson said, "so you've gotta play like Lions."

Scott echoed the sentiment.

"We had to have pride," the Lions' 5-10, 165-pound quarterback-cornerback said. "We had to play like Lawrence Lions."

Scott sparkled on defense, intercepting Topeka quarterback Josh Osborn twice and Trojan back-up Shawn Smith once. They were Scott's first pass thefts since his sophomore year when he had three all season.

Scott also scored twice once on a 20-yard run when he kept the ball on the option and circled right end, and again on a 60-yard punt return in the fourth quarter. He would have, like Johnson, posted a TD hat trick if his 36-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter hadn't been wiped out by a holding penalty.

"I knew it was my last game," Scott said, "and I wanted to go out with a win."

On paper, the game was meaningless because the Lions had no hope of earning a berth in the Class 6A playoffs in the wake of last week's stunning 16-0 loss to Free State.

Still, coach Dirk Wedd came up with a carrot. He told his players Lawrence High had posted only five losing seasons since 1940. By winning Friday, the Lions finished 5-4. They were 6-4 last year and had hoped for another playoff berth this season at least.

"We had hoped to make bigger strides this year," Wedd said. "We made a small step. It wasn't the one we wanted, but sometimes you have to take little steps."

Wedd will lose 21 seniors, including Johnson and Scott, but McAnderson is a junior. The 6-0, 202-pound McAnderson led the Lions in rushing with 89 yards in 19 carries. He ran for an eight-yard TD in the Lions' 24-point first quarter in addition to tossing the scoring aerial to Johnson just before halftime.

Wedd admitted he was a bit concerned his players might come out flat because of the no-playoff factor and because Topeka High hadn't won since its opener.

"Anytime you lose a big game there's a chance you won't come out ready to play," Wedd said.

Johnson's coast-to-coast journey with the opening kickoff dispelled that notion in a hurry.

"He's been leading the league in kickoff returns all year," Wedd said. "He hit the crease and he has the speed to take it to the house."

It's easier, too, when you're untouched.

"All year the kickoff team has made the blocks," Johnson said. "I had a hole and I just ran."

Johnson, Scott and the other LHS seniors will always have a shelf in Wedd's memory bank.

"The seniors are special for me," he said. "They came in when I became head coach. We're trying to bring Lawrence High back to where it was and they bought into it."

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