As he'd done so many times before, Dante Jackson held the ball in his hands and tried to make a play.
With Lawrence High starting running back Hunter Krom not in uniform and the next two running backs on the roster leaving the game due to injury, Jackson dropped back in the shotgun alongside Garrett Romero, the team's backup quarterback and seemingly the only remaining option in the backfield.
Facing pressure from the Lee's Summit (Mo.) West defense, Jackson attempted to get away from a pair of defenders but lost the ball as he was brought to the ground with just a few minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. He walked off the field with the game all but over, having come up just short of getting revenge in the Sunflower League-Suburban Conference Showdown.
"That was the hardest fought game I've probably played in my career," Jackson said following the 49-35 loss.
Certainly the LHS senior quarterback left it all on the field.
Jackson put together a monstrous first half, recording three touchdowns, including the game's opening score. After a pair of penalties backed Lawrence (2-1) into a first-and-30 from the 40-yard line, Jackson made up all the ground on one play, taking a snap out of the shotgun and racing down the middle of the field for a 40-yard touchdown.
He'd add two more scores through the air before the end of the half, as the Lions led 28-14 with less than two minutes to play in the second quarter.
"I thought he was the best player on the field," said coach Dirk Wedd of his quarterback.
Unfortunately for the Lions, though, they couldn't escape the half unscathed — not by a late score and not by the injury bug. Let's start with the touchdown.
While the Lions appeared to be firmly in control of the game, running 48 plays and picking up 22 first downs compared to just nine and two, respectively, for the Titans, the game was still within reach because of a pair of long touchdown runs by the Titans' Phillip Brooks.
Brooks, who would ultimately total six touchdowns on the day, ripped an 81-yard score on the Titans' first play from scrimmage and added a 69-yard touchdown run with just under four minutes to play in the half.
"They're monster big, fast as all get out, you know they're a really good football team," Wedd said. "We knew we were going to have to play the best game that we had all year."
Sure enough, the Titans (4-1) had plenty of fight left. Junior quarterback Ben Kobel found junior running back Marcian Marshall for a 17-yard touchdown pass with just seconds remaining in the first half and the Titans marched down the field quickly and efficiently for a touchdown to tie the game in the third quarter.
But the Lions had problems deeper than the score.
After rushing for a touchdown in the first half, running back Angel Garcia (16 rushes, 88 yards, TD) left the game with an injury. The Lions were down to third-string running back Cole Morris (10 rushes, 36 yards), but eventually he couldn't continue either after hurting his left ankle in the second half.
"I mean we played all the fourth quarter with a backup quarterback playing tailback ... just (because he) knew what to do," Wedd said.
Ultimately that was too much to overcome.
Jackson had a good day through the air, linking up with Ekow Boye-Doe (four catches, 100 yards) for three touchdown passes, but the Titans finished off the game with three straight touchdowns of their own — all coming at the hands of Brooks — securing the win and handing the Lions their first loss of the year.
"That was the best I've seen my team play. They went balls to the wall. Every play they went all out," Jackson said of the Lions after the game. "You've got to love your team going all out especially when you don't have the 100 and whatever players they have. With our 40-50 players, we sure played a heck of a ballgame."
LONGTIME FAN HONORED — In between the first and second quarters, the Lions honored Imogene Kilgore, a fan who has attended LHS games for 60 years both at home and on the road. Kilgore, according to the school, has only missed two games since graduating from Lawrence High in 1957 and has braved the elements to do so time and time again, leading to her being honored as the CI3T Fan of the Week on Saturday.
Lee’s Summit West 49, Lawrence High 35
LSW | LHS
First downs 23 | 30
Rushes-yards 32-409 | 62-307
Passing yards 114 | 128
Total offense 523 | 435
Fumbles-lost 0-0 | 1-1
Penalties-yards 12-132 | 7-62
Score by quarters
LS-West 7 14 14 14 — 49
Lawrence 14 14 7 0 — 35
LSW: Phillip Brooks 23-364 5 TD, Marcian Marshall 5-27, Sammy Cooper 1-negative 3, Mario Goodrich 2-22, Ben Kobel 1-negative 1.
LHS: Dante Jackson 33-176 TD, Angel Garcia 16-88 TD, Romero Garrett 1-5, Cole Morris 10-36, Jalen Dudley 2-2.
LSW: Kobel 10-15–114 2 TD.
LHS: Jackson 8-15–128 3 TD and INT.
LSW: Cade Clemons 4-32, Marshall 1-17 TD, Brooks 2-28 TD, Trevor Kardell 3-37.
LHS: Ekow Boye-Doe 4-100 3 TD, Dudley 2-27, Morris 1-negative 3, Romero 1-4.
HOW THEY SCORED
7:46 — Dante Jackson 40 run. Ross Brungardt kick. (LSW 0, LHS 7.)
7:28 — Phillip Brooks 81 run. Mykal Wiley kick. (LSW 7, LHS 7.)
4:08 — Angel Garcia 1 run. Brungardt kick. (LSW 7, LHS 14.)
10:09 — Ekow Boye-Doe 27 pass from Jackson. Brungardt kick. (LSW 7, LHS 21.)
3:45 — Brooks 69 run. Wiley kick. (LSW 14, LHS 21.)
1:48 — Boye-Doe 32 pass from Jackson. Brungardt kick. (LSW 14, LHS 28.)
0:16 — Marcian Marshall 17 pass from Ben Kobel. Wiley kick. (LSW 21, LHS 28.)
8:40 — Brooks 20 run. Wiley kick. (LSW 28, LHS 28.)
6:45 — Boye-Doe 27 pass from Jackson. Brungardt kick. (LSW 28, LHS 35.)
4:14 — Brooks 18 pass from Kobel. Wiley kick. (LSW 35, LHS 35.)
4:17 — Brooks 40 run. Wiley kick. (LSW 42, LHS 35.)
1:40 — Brooks 3 run. Wiley kick. (LSW 49, LHS 35.)