OLATHE, Kan. Despite an all-or-nothing effort from every player that took the field, the Free State High football team fell to Olathe North, 41-28 on Friday night at Olathe District Activity Center.
The loss ends the Firebirds season at 8-3. Olathe North improves to 11-0 and advances to next week's Class 6A state semifinals.
Free State trailed 14-7 at half and quickly tied things up in the third quarter on a long TD run from quarterback Camren Torneden.
The Eagles responded with a quick TD of their own to take back command of the game.
That's where North took control of the game. The Eagles turned a 21-14 lead into a 28-14 lead on a four-yard TD run from Tre Walker. Walker was the only player not named James Franklin or Victor Simmons to run the ball on Friday. And he had just two carries - both for touchdowns.
Despite trailing 28-14, Free State cut into the lead when Torneden found Aundre Allen for an 10-yard TD on fourth and goal midway through the fourth quarter.
The Eagles answered with a 60-yard TD run from Franklin and led 35-21. Free State cut the lead to 35-28 with four minutes to play when Torneden connected with Allen again on a 12-yard TD. But the Eagles punched it in again with 1:27 to play to seal the victory.
Olathe North 14, Free State 7
Last time out the Firebirds had surrendered 19 points before they even knew what hit them.
This time, things have been quite a bit different.
Playing for the second straight year at Olathe North in the Class 6A state quarterfinals, the Firebirds have played a solid first half on both sides of the ball and trail the Eagles, 14-7 at halftime.
Olathe North scored on the opening drive to take a 7-0 lead. All-world running back James Franklin did some of the damage, but most came from ON quarterback Victor Simmons, who scored a TD on a 4th-and-Goal from the 3-yard line and added a 49-yard scamper to set up the score.
The Firebirds' first drive stalled after a couple of first downs but that's when the Free State D arrived. Free State held Olathe North on three other first-half drives and surrendered a late TD on another Simmons TD run.
Simmons has run 16 times for 103 yards in the first half. Franklin has 71 yards on 15 carries.
The Firebirds, meanwhile, scored their lone touchdown of the night in between the two O-North scores. The score was set up by a huge play from the green and white defense, as the O-North punter was sacked on the 27 yard line after mishandling the snap on a fourth-and-10.
Four plays later, Free State QB Camren Torneden hit Keene Niemack with an 11-yard TD pass.
Olathe North started the game with the ball and the Firebirds should take the first possession of the second half.
The second half kickoff is set for 8:07 p.m.
Stay tuned to LJWorld.com for more updates.