Cole Mondi makes game-clinching stop, Lawrence holds off Olathe North for 21-20 win
photo by: Chance Parker
Lawrence High head coach Steve Rampy wasn’t surprised in the least to see who made the game-clinching stop on a two-point conversion in the team’s 21-20 victory over Olathe North Friday night at LHS.
Senior linebacker Cole Mondi came through when his team needed him the most, making the play of the night by stuffing a two-point try to help Lawrence improve to 6-0 on the year. Olathe North, which made it to the state title game a year ago, suffered its first loss of the season and fell to 5-1 with the narrow defeat.
“That doesn’t surprise me at all,” Rampy said. “If anyone was going to make that play, it was going to be 22. He’s going to make that play.”
With momentum on their side, the Eagles (No. 3 in Class 6A) chose to go for the win by attempting a two-point conversion with 32.2 seconds left in the game. Lawrence (6-0) called a timeout, even though it knew that Olathe North was going to run the ball.
The Eagles had already attempted 56 runs on their 67 offensive plays during the night, which allowed the visitors to dominate time of possession and kept the Lions’ defense on the field. So a run was a near certainty on Olathe North’s two-point try.
And that is exactly what happened, as Olathe North junior quarterback Noah Palmer took the direct snap and ran to his right. Mondi read the play immediately, charging up to make the stop before Palmer could cross the end zone.
Mondi ran toward the sideline in celebration and was congratulated by many of his teammates.
“For limited attendance, this place went nuts,” Mondi said. “I heard every bit of it and I felt it. I’m just thankful for everybody I line up with out here.”
Mondi eventually recovered the ensuing onside kick, which put the finishing touch on Lawrence’s closest win yet.
“It’s got to be up there,” Mondi said about the stop being one of the best moments of his career. “When we say we will do anything for each other, that’s what it looks like. I was fortunate enough to make that play.”
It was especially impressive given how much the Lions’ defense were out on the field leading up to that sequence. Olathe North utilized a three-headed rushing attack, led by Palmer and junior running backs Aquantez Love and Jacob Parrish.
Olathe North ran 57 total offensive plays, compared to Lawrence’s 29 plays. It led to the defense being tired and giving up a pair of fourth-quarter scores to the Eagles. But the LHS defense came through in the end.
“At times, we looked really good,” Rampy said of his defense. “If you stop their running game, which we did at times, you can’t let them throw the football. We have to get better at that.”
The Lions actually struck first, and in emphatic fashion.
Olathe North had its opening possession stalled by a key penalty, which led to an impossible 3rd-and-23 situation. The Eagles chose to run the ball on third down and settle for the punt moments later. Yet that’s when things really got out of control for the visitors.
A low snap put Olathe North’s punter in a bad position. LHS junior Evan Bannister was back there in a hurry to make a play, stuffing the punter for a big loss. LHS took advantage by scoring one play later. Senior running back Devin Neal sprinted around the left edge with ease for a 12-yard touchdown run, giving Lawrence a quick 7-0 advantage.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing after that, however.
Senior quarterback Jackson Dooley threw an interception on Lawrence’s second drive. The Lions then punted on their next two possessions, failing to get into any sort of rhythm on the offensive side of the ball.
Olathe North eventually caught Lawrence’s defense sleeping a bit with a pair of long passes in the final 90 seconds of the first half. Palmer hit Parrish on a 24-yard connection on 4th-and-9 to keep its drive alive. Two plays later, Palmer delivered a 23-yard touchdown strike to senior Braden Cain to even the score just before the intermission.
The Lions responded with two decisive touchdown runs by Neal that created some breathing room. The KU commit scored on a 9-yard touchdown run in the third period and darted his way down the middle of the Olathe North defense with a 98-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
It could prove to be a big win for the Lions, who have just one regular-season game remaining. Lawrence will travel to Free State next week.
“We really needed to close out the regular season strong,” Mondi said. “We have to come out strong and keep doing what we do and finish the game.”
Lawrence 21, Olathe North 20
LHS | ON
First downs 5 | 18
Rushes-yards 16-143 | 56-167
Passing yards 38 | 121
Total offense 181 | 288
Fumbles-lost 0-0 | 0-0
Interceptions 1 | 1
Penalties-yards 3-30 | 7-80
Score by quarters
O-North 0 7 0 13 — 20
Lawrence 7 0 7 7 — 21
ON: Aquantez Love 12-70; Noah Palmer 19-64; Jacob Parrish 22-60. Sacks: 3-(minus 27)
LHS Devin Neal 12-157; Graham Hough 1-2; Jeremy Jacobson 1-(minus 3). Sacks: 2-(minus 13)
ON: Noah Palmer 7-for-10 for 121 yards.
LHS Jackson Dooley 4-for-13 for 38 yards.
ON: Jacob Parrish 4-83; Braden Cain 1-23; Aquantez Love 1-0; Laython Patillo 1-14.
LHS: Tre’ Jackson 1-5; Devin Neal 1-14; Ben King 1-10; John Green 1-9.
HOW THEY SCORED
8:39 — Devin Neal 12 run. Connor Gellender kick good (LHS 7, ON 0)
41.1 — Braden Cain 23 pass from Noah Palmer. Bradley Polston kick good. (LHS 7, ON 7)
9:38 — Neal 9 run. Gellender kick good. (LHS 14, ON 7)
7:14 — Neal 98 run. Gellender kick good. (LHS 21, ON 7)
4:30 — Jacob Parrish 3 run. Polston kick good. (LHS 21, ON 14)
32.2 — Laython Patillo 22 pass from Palmer. Two-point conversion failed. (LHS 21, ON 20)