When Lawrence High’s football team has struggled to score points this season, the defense has stepped up with big plays to bail the offense out. On Friday, the Lions’ offense returned the favor.
In a game with more than 1,000 yards of offense, the Lions won the shootout and advanced in the Class 6A state playoffs with a 56-32 victory over Shawnee Mission North at LHS.
The top-ranked Lions (10-0) produced 560 yards of their own with an accurate passing attack and their usual dominant run game, scoring on their first three drives.
“There’s been games where the offense hasn’t been doing too well, and the defense has stepped up,” LHS senior quarterback Alan Clothier said. “I knew tonight was going to be one of those nights that we were going to have to step up, and we did.”
The Indians (3-7) trailed by only 10 points midway through the third quarter following a 10-yard touchdown run by SM North junior running back Marco Garcia, who finished with 137 yards.
But every time the Indians tried to claw back, the Lions responded with a score. LHS senior running back JD Woods ran for a six-yard touchdown for a 35-18 advantage in the third quarter.
On the next defensive possession, the Lions forced a three-and-out and SM North’s first and only punt of the game. LHS senior lineman Trey Georgie partially blocked the punt, giving the Lions a short field.
Three plays later, Woods was running into the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown. Woods ran to his right on the play, saw he didn’t have a hole open, and ran backwards while reversing course to the left side of the field before a big block from Clothier gave him enough separation to run past would-be tacklers.
Woods led the Lions with 186 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries, and senior Peter Afful added a 51-yard touchdown run on his only carry in the fourth quarter.
However, the Lions had trouble stopping SM North junior quarterback Will Schneider, who tossed for 323 yards and three touchdowns. He avoided the LHS pass rush with quick three-step drops, and he had the agility to bounce around the pocket for extra time.
Schneider ran for 120 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“We had to get used to him,” said Georgie, who batted down two passes at the line of scrimmage. “Our secondary, they didn’t play as good as they can. But they’re going to get better, and the D-line is going to get better. We’re going to have fun next week.”
Clothier did his best to match Schneider, tossing for 199 yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-13 passing. He threw a 32-yard touchdown to senior tight end Price Morgan over the middle of the field on the first drive of the game and connected on a 61-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver J’Mony Bryant in the fourth quarter.
Clothier added 93 rushing yards and a 19-yard touchdown run before halftime.
“We’ve worked very hard on it,” LHS coach Dirk Wedd said of the passing game. “In practice, we spend 20, 30 minutes … just throwing the ball. I feel comfortable. Alan can throw it.”
In the first half, the Lions took advantage of two fumbles, one forced by Morgan and another recovered by Morgan. Senior linebacker Tanner Green also made a tackle on fourth-and-one at midfield to force a turnover on downs.
The Lions know they’ll need to clean up their defensive performance in the state quarterfinals next week but were thrilled to move on to the second round.
“It’s great. I haven’t won a playoff football game since I’ve been in high school,” Morgan said. “We’ve been talking about going to the state championship ever since we got here. This is just one step along the way, so I’m really excited.”
The Lions will play host to Blue Valley (8-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.
First downs 25 11
Rushes-yards 33-256 34-361
Passing yards 323 199
Total offense 579 560
Return yards 68 66
Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 6-48 8-74
Score by quarters
SM North 6 6 6 14 — 32
Lawrence 21 7 14 14 — 56
SMN: Marcos Garcia 16-137 TD, Will Schneider 13-120 TD, Cesar Salgado 4-(negative) 1.
LHS: JD Woods 18-186 4 TD, Alan Clothier 7-93 TD, Peter Afful 1-51 TD, Hunter Krom 8-31.
SMN: Schneider 28-43–323 3 TDs and interception.
LHS: Clothier 10-13–199 2 TDs.
SMN: Parker Williamson 9-110 TD, Dalton Morris 10-126 TD, Taylor Knowles 3-35, Tyler Burnett 2-24 TD, Garcia 1-11, Zach Pittman 2-14, Nate McCoy 1-3.
LHS: Price Morgan 3-70 TD, Woods 3-44, Dante’ Jackson 2-22, J’Mony Bryant 2-63 TD.
HOW THEY SCORED
9:58 — Price Morgan 32 pass from Alan Clothier. Cole Brungardt kick. (LHS 7, SMN 0.)
8:04 — Dalton Morris 5 pass from Will Schneider. Marcos Garcia run failed. (LHS 7, SMN 6.)
2:58 — JD Woods 30 run. Brungardt kick. (LHS 14, SMN 6.)
0:54 — Woods 71 run. Brungardt kick. (LHS 21, SMN 6.)
9:55 — Tyler Burnett 17 pass from Schneider. Burnett run failed. (LHS 21, SMN 12.)
2:46 — Clothier 19 run. Brungardt kick. (LHS 28, SMN 12.)
7:08 — Marcos Garcia 10 run. Schneider pass failed. (LHS 28, SMN 18.)
4:34 — Woods 6 run. Brungardt kick. (LHS 35, SMN 18.)
2:22 — Woods 12 run. Brungardt kick. (LHS 42, SMN 18.)
9:37 — J’Mony Bryant 61 pass from Clothier. Brungardt kick. (LHS 49, SMN 18.)
8:24 — Schneider 70 run. Keighan Miller kick. (LHS 49, SMN 25.)
8:05 — Peter Afful 51 run. Brungardt kick. (LHS 56, SMN 25.)
2:27 — Parker Williamson 41 pass from Schneider. Miller kick. (LHS 56, SMN 32.)