It hasn’t taken long for Topeka Hayden transfer Dallas Crittenden to make himself at home at Free State High.
On Friday, Crittenden aired out 246 yards with three touchdown passes en route to a 35-10 homecoming victory over Olathe South. With the win, the Firebirds (3-2) move above the .500 benchmark for the first time all season.
“It was a team effort,” Crittenden said. “I feel like we deserve this as a team because of all the hard work. Our line did the best they can do and my receivers did the best they do. My job is to just get it to them and hope they can do what they do.”
From the very first play from scrimmage, it was evident Crittenden was going to be able to take advantage of the Falcons through the air. On the opening play, Crittenden dropped back and found his favorite target — senior Zack Sanders — open over the middle on a post pattern.
Sanders had nothing but daylight, completing the 65-yard connection to give the Firebirds a 7-0 advantage just 17 seconds into the game.
“He’s electric,” Free State coach Bob Lisher said of Sanders. “When he gets the ball in his hands he can make some things happen. We have to give Dallas time to throw the ball, which we did tonight. We made quite a few big plays on both sides.”
It would not be the last time the dynamic duo linked up Friday night at the Cage.
Early in the second quarter the Firebirds began a drive on their own seven yard line, clinging to a 7-3 lead. Crittenden marched Free State down the field with the help of a pair of big plays such as a 24-yard scramble and a gain of 32 on a screen pass to Sanders.
Crittenden ended the nine-play drive by lobbing it up to Sanders in the corner of the endzone for a six-yard connection.
“I knew him but I didn’t know him too well, I played little league football with him,” Sanders said of his quarterback. “He came in and transferred and just made himself at home. To have another game like this for him, it’s just going to keep building his self esteem.”
The Free State tandem teamed up for a third time for good measure. Crittenden lofted a ball down the right sideline that Sanders had to come back to grab.
Sanders did just that, and pulled a hesitation move to shake off the corner and broke another tackle before completing the 67-yard score.
Sanders, who hauled in eight catches for 200 yards, has now notched seven touchdowns over his previous two contests.
“It’s ridiculous, he’s one of the best players I have ever seen,” sophomore Jax Dineen said. “He’s super fast and he breaks tackles. I love playing with him.”
But it not just the showing of Crittenden and Sanders that led to the lopsided affair.
Multiple running backs got involved as well. Lead back senior Zion Bowlin punched it from four yards out late in the first half, to cap a nine-play drive that featured no negative yards.
Bowlin finished with 40 yards on six attempts as he sat out a majority of the second half.
With Bowlin “dinged up” according to Lisher, Jax Dineen was featured more in the second half. Dineen broke a 57-yard run on Free State’s first play of the second half to take a 28-10 lead.
“Our running backs did well running the ball,” Crittenden said. “Our line did a great job of blocking down the field. We just didn’t give up on any play.”
And yet, the defense did its part as well by keeping Olathe South’s dual threat junior quarterback Nick Jourat in check. Jourat toted the ball 17 times but only managed 33 yards on positive runs. He competed 15-for-25 pass attempts for 127 yards and a score.
In fact, the Falcons’ only points were as a result of good field position. Following an interception off Crittenden, Olathe South began a first quarter drive at the Free State 20. Four plays later, the Falcons booted a 29-yard field goal.
The lone touchdown came on a failed onside kick in the second quarter and turned it into a 16-yard pass play from Jouret to Ben Landshut.
“Defensively we are getting better each and every week and we need to,” Lisher said.
Free State will play host to Olathe Northwest next Friday at 7 p.m.
Free State 35, Olathe South 10
FS | OS
First downs 14 | 9
Rushes-yards 37-310 | 39-54
Passing yards 246 | 127
Total offense 556 | 181
Fumbles-lost 2-1 | 0-0
Penalties-yards 2-25 | 1-5
Score by quarters
Olathe South 3 7 0 0 — 10
Free State 7 14 7 7 — 35
OS: Nick Jouret 16-2 negative 31, Oakley Reed 15-46, Tyler Cavil 5-19, Evan Foster 2-negative 13, Hunter Lawson 1-0.
FS: Dallas Crittenden 9-47, Jax Dineen 10-164 1 TD, Zion Bowlin 6-40 1 TD, Gage Foster 7-45, Zack Sanders 1-7, Tanner Cobb 2-7.
OS: Jouret 15-25-127 1TD
FS: Crittenden 15-20-244 3TD and 2INT
OS: Tre Adger 5-66, Ben Landshut 3-35, Nick Lukinac 2-14, Reed 2-12, Lawson 1-15, Jai Haynes 1-3.
FS: Sanders 8-200 3 TD, Daniel Bryant 4-29, Drew Wise 1-3, Bowlin 1-7, Foster 1-7
HOW THEY SCORED
11:43 — Zack Sanders 65 pass from Crittenden. Kameron Lake kick good. (FS 7, OS 0.)
7:14 — Tre Adger 29 field goal. (FS 7, OS 3.)
7:46 — Sanders 6 pass from Crittenden. Lake kick. (FS 14, OS 3.)
4:19 — Ben Landshut 16 pass from Nick Jouret. Adger kick. (FS 14, OS 10.)
1:25 — Zion Bowlin 4 run. Lake kick. (FS 21, OS 10.)
9:32 — Jax Dineen 57 run. Lake kick. (FS 28, OS 10.)
5:35 — Sanders 67 pass from Crittenden. Lake kick. (FS 35, OS 10.)