LHS football advances to Round of 16 with 38-21 win over Washburn Rural
It was a simple response, but one that helped Lawrence High’s football team avoid a scare during a 38-21 win Friday night over Washburn Rural at LHS in the opening round of the Class 6A playoffs.
The Lions never wavered after the Junior Blues pulled within 10 points late in the third quarter, which is a sign of a team that can win multiple games in November. Lawrence was given a brief scare after roughing the punter, and giving up a long completion on fourth down, to help Washburn Rural pull within 10 points.
Rather than panic, though, the Lions (No. 6 seed in 6A West) kept it simple on their ensuing drive.
“We felt like we could score, they really never stopped us,” LHS head coach Steve Rampy said. “It was just a matter of us not stopping ourselves.”
The Lions proceeded to score three plays later, marching down the field 74 yards to take a 31-14 lead just 53 seconds later. Junior running back Devin Neal picked up 52 yards on his first two carries, giving LHS favorable field position.
Junior quarterback Jackson Dooley then went to the air, launching a ball toward the end zone. Senior receiver Chris McGee had to come back for the ball, snatching it over a Washburn Rural defensive back before getting into the end zone on a 23-yard touchdown connection.
“I felt like we had it after that,” McGee said. “I think we keep our head in the right place throughout adversity. When something bad happens, we just keep our heads up and go out and play.”
McGee was embraced by his LHS teammates on his way back toward the sideline before Connor Gellender drilled the point-after-attempt. It proved to be the signature score for the Lions, who are the sixth seed in the 6A West, and it meant that they were able to avoid any potential upset in a battle with No. 11 Washburn Rural in the first round.
The Lions (8-1) will now advance to the second round of the 6A playoffs after going 1-8 and losing to eventual state champion Derby in the opening round last season.
“We are one of 16 teams left,” Rampy said. “That’s all that this is about now. We win and we advance.”
But moving on wasn’t always a guarantee for the Lions, who suffered a 31-30 defeat to Free State in the regular-season finale.
Washburn Rural (3-6) scored on the first play from scrimmage, as Jaylen Carter broke free for a 71-yard touchdown run. Neal answered three plays later with a 23-yard touchdown run to even the score.
One possession later, Neal scored on a 14-yard touchdown run behind solid blocking from the offensive line of Noah Smith, Acen Villegas, Porter Dannevik, Lane Luna and Drew Meyer. The Lions never trailed from that moment on.
“We are just looking forward to going in tomorrow and cleaning up some things,” McGee said. “We had a lot of mental mistakes on offense. We need to get rid of that if we are going to get to where we are trying to go.”
It wasn’t always a smooth ride for LHS. Washburn Rural kept things interesting for two-and-half periods, though Lawrence’s defense made a number of plays to help notch the program’s first postseason victory since 2017.
Cole Mondi, Shavion Bethea, Cole Morris, Teagan Flynn, Nick Ray, Austin Hollins and Dylan Gillespie provided plenty of pressure throughout the night. Washburn Rural quarterback Cooper Carlgren was sacked multiple times in the loss.
Neal netted a 31-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to finish with three rushing scores. Junior Tre’ Jackson delivered a 40-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to remove any doubt about the outcome.
Lawrence will travel to Topeka High for the second round of the Class 6A playoffs on Friday.
“We did some good things and we did some bad things,” Rampy said. “It was a good win.”
Lawrence High 38, Washburn Rural 21
LHS | WR
First downs 16 | 9
Rushes-yards 28-252 | 36-121
Passing yards 208 | 103
Total offense 460 | 224
Fumbles-lost 0-0 | 0-0
Interceptions 1 | 0
Penalties-yards 15-140| 4-35
WR: Jaylen Carter 13-99, Cooper Carlgren 13-67
LHS: Devin Neal 24-194, Graham Hough 2-16, Jackson Dooley 1-2, Tre’ Jackson 1-40.
WR: Cooper Carlgren 11-18-103
LHS: Jackson Dooley 16-26-208
WR: Jamavian Green 2-11, Josh Williams 1-8, Jaylen Carter 2-2, Keondre Porter 4-68, Chase Clausing 1-10, Joey Blakesley 1-4.
LHS: Chris McGee 10-135, Tre’ Jackson 1-1, Devin Neal 2-52, Ben King 2-15, Nesne Obono 1-5.
Score by quarters
Washburn Rural 7 0 7 7 — 21
Lawrence High 14 3 14 7 — 38
HOW THEY SCORED
11:39 — Jaylen Carter 71 run. Giles Frederickson kick good. (WR 7, LHS 0)
11:06 – Devin Neal 23 run. Connor Gellender kick good. (LHS 7, WR 7)
6:58 — Neal 14 run. Gellender kick good. (LHS 14, WR 7)
0:00 — Gellender 27 kick good. (LHS 17, WR 7)
9:00 — Neal 31 run. Gellender kick good. (LHS 24, WR 7)
3:45 — Carter 1 run. Frederickson kick good. (LHS 24, WR 14)
2:52 — Chris McGee 23 pass from Jackson Dooley. Gellender kick good. (LHS 31, WR 14)
7:24 — Tre’ Jackson 40 run. Gellender kick good. (LHS 38, WR 14)
2:15 — Keondre Porter 19 pass from Cooper Carlgren. Frederickson kick good. (LHS 38, WR 21)