Olathe There was a lot to be said of Lawrence High’s 33-22 loss to Olathe South on Friday night at the College Boulevard Activity Center.
O-South has a virtually unstoppable running game, LHS is able to compete with the great Sunflower League teams, and, judging by the beating he took, junior quarterback Brad Strauss is as tough as they come.
But none of those defined the game. When the Lions lost senior lineman Brady Murrish to a knee injury early in the third quarter, coach Dirk Wedd and the Lions realized how crucial he was to the team.
“Losing your senior center hurts,” Wedd said.
While Murrish was playing, the game got off to a wild start. The Falcons opened with a drive ending in a 32-yard touchdown run by running back Russell White.
The Lions (1-1) retaliated with a touchdown drive of their own and somehow turned a botched extra point into a two-point conversion. South scored again and missed the extra point, while LHS answered and added another two-point conversion, making it 16-13 in favor of the Lions.
Then the game got away from them.
The Falcons led, 26-22, and the Lions were in the midst of a 13-play drive in which they converted two fourth downs. Then Murrish went down in obvious pain and walked off gingerly. From the look of it, it seemed doubtful he would return.
Without its starting center, LHS was about to take back the lead. Everything was looking good, highlighted by junior receiver Erick Mayo’s breakout performance (130 receiving yards and 43 rushing yards).
On third-and-nine at South’s 12-yard line, Strauss recovered a bad snap, but his eyes were off the field long enough to lose track of the defense’s coverage. He threw a pick in the end zone and the Falcons turned that possession into seven more points.
There were a total of six bad snaps for LHS, and two of them caused Strauss interceptions, both inside the red zone.
“The ball has got to get back to the quarterback,” Wedd said.
But maybe the Lions could have overcome the loss of their center had they been able to stop the problematic running attack by the Falcons. The ball seemed to disappear half the time because of the fakes, reverses and counters. But everybody at CBAC knew that the ball was somewhere on the ground.
South ran for 321 yards, most of them by shedding defenders. Wedd dismissed his team being tired as a result of missed tackles, but he wasn’t really sure what it was besides the sheer girth on South’s offensive line.
“They’re big and it was hard for us to stop their running game,” Wedd said. “Until we watch film, it will be hard to see what was going on.”
The Lions came into the game knowing South’s rushing would be an issue. The Falcons only scored once in the second half and the rushing totals seemed to diminish over the course of the fourth quarter. Still, the Falcons did their damage early and basically used the run to coast to victory.
Wedd just wishes it didn’t go on for that long.
“You certainly need to figure it out sooner than that,” he said.