Even another slow start couldn't keep Free State High from advancing to the second round of the Class 6A football playoffs Friday night at FSHS.
The Firebirds turned a 14-point deficit into a 40-14 victory over Shawnee Mission Northwest behind four total touchdowns from senior quarterback Joe Dineen, who threw a pair of second-half touchdowns to senior receiver Khadre Lane.
FSHS running backs Stan Skwarlo and Blake Winslow each rushed for a TD in the first-round victory.
The top seed in the east bracket of the 6A football playoffs, Free State trailed No. 8 seed Shawnee Mission Northwest, 14-0, in the first quarter before coming back to take a 14-14 tie into halftime.
The Cougars (3-7) capitalized on a botched punt play from the FIrebirds and took a 7-0 lead following an eight-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jake Horner.
Later, on Free State's third possession, Dineen fumbled and Cougars defensive lineman Gabriel Falcon returned it 23 yards for a touchdown.
Down 14-0, Free State (9-1) finally got some momentum with a 50-yard run by Dineen with 1:31 left in the first quarter.
Winslow scored on a 32-yard rushing TD with 3:00 left in the half.
FSHS will play at Olathe North next Friday night.
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