OVERLAND PARK — Lawrence High senior running back Hunter Krom admitted he was tired in the final minutes of a 42-21 victory over Shawnee Mission Northwest, but he certainly didn’t show it.
Carrying the ball with the intention of running out the clock on Lawrence’s final offensive possession, Krom was hit near the line of scrimmage, kept his legs churning and went forward another seven or eight yards with multiple defenders on his back.
That was Krom’s final rushing attempt in one of the most dominant performances in school history, racking up 334 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the team’s season opener Thursday at Shawnee Mission North District Stadium.
Krom, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the team’s first game last year, said he dreamed about a big game in his return to the field and he delivered strong run after strong run.
“I was playing through my head, ‘Don’t go down. Just stay up,’” said the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Krom, who credited his offensive line of Jacob Mills, Nick Englebert, Brayden Liakos, Bailey Greer and Bryce Tibke.
Lawrence High football v. Shawnee Mission Northwest
View a gallery of images from the Lions' game against the Cougars
After the Lions took a 21-0 lead in the second quarter, Krom shut the door on any potential comeback attempts. Three plays after SMNW’s first score, Krom sprinted past defenders down the sideline for a 77-yard touchdown.
In the third quarter, again three plays following a SMNW touchdown, Krom provided another 76-yard score with a strong cut back across the field.
Lawrence coach Dirk Wedd, who became the school's third coach since 1940 to win 100 career games, said Krom showed flashes of his potential when he was a backup running back for the past two years. Once the Lions realized how much success Krom was having on the ground, Wedd said they switched to a formation they’ve hardly practiced all fall.
“He was just running through people,” LHS junior quarterback Garrett Romero said. “Running hard, just what he always does.”
The Lions (1-0), who were playing with only four returning starters on offense, scored on five straight possessions once they settled into a rhythm near the end of the first quarter. It started with two touchdowns thrown by Romero, who filled in for usual starter Dante Jackson (out one game), on short passes to dynamic senior receiver Ekow Boye-Doe (five catches, 72 yards).
On the first drive of the third quarter, Romero tossed a picture-perfect fade pass into the end zone for senior receiver Jalen Dudley, connecting for a 28-yard touchdown. Romero filled in for Jackson at times last year, but didn’t look near as comfortable as he did Thursday, which he attributed to being more confident.
“We told him he didn’t have to be Jackson, he just had to be Garrett,” Wedd said of his QB who finished 7-of-11 for 110 yards and three scores. “He had to get the ball to the right people and he did. Just a super job by him.”
Lawrence’s defense, which lost nearly every starter from last season, adjusted to SM Northwest’s spread offense after the first series. An inexperienced secondary faced 57 passing attempts and recorded three interceptions — one each from junior defensive back Jakoby Masters, junior linebacker Isaac Flint and sophomore defensive back Kendrick Hobson.
Holding the Cougars (0-1) to only 11 rushing yards, the Lions picked up sacks from Eric Galbreath, Nick Miller, Caleb Mondi and EJ Jewsome.
“It was an unbelievable team effort,” Wedd said.
LAWRENCE 42, SM NORTHWEST 21
LHS | SMNW
First downs 15 | 17
Rushes-yards 51-406 | 12-11
Passing yards 110 | 362
Total offense 516 | 373
Fumbles-lost 2-1 | 1-0
Penalties-yards 12-128 | 11-84
Score by quarters
Lawrence 7 21 7 7 — 42
Northwest 0 7 0 14 — 21
LHS: Hunter Krom 31-334 3 TDs, Garrett Romero 6-5, Jalen Dudley 1-1, Angel Garcia 13-66.
SMNW: Jamie Alexander 5-21, Spencer Stewart 7-negative 10 TD.
LHS: Romero 7-11—110 3 TDs.
SMNW: Stewart 31-57—362 TD and 3 INT.
LHS: Ekow Boye-Doe 5-72 2 TDs, Jalen Dudley 2-38 TD.
SMNW: Caleb Johnson 7-79, Alexander 7-50, Caleb Addington 4-41, Ty Lindenman 6-83 TD, Floyd Martin 1-11, Hayden Goodpaster 6-98.
HOW THEY SCORED
0:50 — Ekow Boye-Doe 50 pass from Garrett Romero. Ross Brungardt kick. (LHS 7, SMNW 0.)
8:35 — Boye-Doe 12 pass from Romero. Brungardt kick. (LHS 14, SMNW 0.)
3:50 — Hunter Krom 3 run. Brungardt kick. (LHS 21, SMNW 0.)
3:13 — Spencer Stewart 13 run. Tristan McCreight kick. (LHS 21, SMNW 7.)
1:50 — Krom 77 run. Brungardt kick. (LHS 28, SMNW 7.)
10:32 — Jalen Dudley 28 pass from Romero. Brungardt kick (LHS 35, SMNW 7.)
10:48 — Jamie Alexander 1 run. McCreight kick. (LHS 35, SMNW 14.)
10:23 — Krom 76 run. Brungardt kick. (LHS 42, SMNW 14.)
4:48 — Ty Lindenman 37 pass from Stewart. McCreight kick. (LHS 42, SMNW 21.)