Lee’s Summit North rolls over sluggish Firebirds, 49-10
photo by: Mike Yoder
Lee’s Summit, Missouri — In its first road test of the season — one without any Firebird faithful in attendance — a slow start doomed Free State’s football team in an eventual 49-10 loss to Lee’s Summit North on Friday.
The Firebirds are now 0-3 through the first four weeks of the season, which includes one cancellation due to an opponent backing out as a precautionary move. It marks the program’s worst start to a season since Free State went 0-3 to begin the 2015 campaign before eventually making it to the Class 6A semifinals.
But it was a stagnant start on both sides of the ball that buried the Firebirds in their latest defeat.
“It killed us,” FSHS head coach Kevin Stewart said. “We were down early and then we were limited on some of the things that we could do. That’s what happens when you get down big early; you get away from what you planned.”
Lee’s Summit North (3-2) needed just five plays to march down the field on the game’s opening drive, which was punctuated by an 8-yard touchdown run by Isaiah Mims. It took just 90 seconds for the Broncos to grab a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Free State didn’t have a response on its first offensive possession, which featured a conservative decision by the coaching staff. After four plays, the Firebirds chose to punt the ball instead of trying to go for it on fourth and 4 from their opponent’s 48-yard line.
“I definitely thought about it but it was just a little bit too early,” Stewart said. “Wanted to give our defense a chance to get back out there.”
Senior Jacobee Williams was unable to get down the field fast enough to down Joey Wood’s punt, and the ball eventually rolled into the end zone for a touchback. Lee’s Summit North then took a 14-0 advantage on an 80-yard drive that ended with a 30-yard touchdown run by Mims.
The Broncos even converted on their own fourth down attempt on that drive for good measure.
FSHS quarterback Jet Dineen then threw a costly interception on the team’s next offensive possession to give the hosts favorable field position. Lee’s Summit North increased its lead to 21-0 on a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Tre Baker in the final minute of the opening period.
The outcome was never really in doubt after that, though Free State managed to respond with better play in the second quarter to stay within striking distance for a bit.
“I thought the defense played really well for 2 1/2 quarters,” Stewart said. “Once we got into a rhythm, they started hitting, flying around and doing a lot better.”
Senior defensive back Ryley Wheat came through with an interception early in the second period, giving the Firebirds plenty of life on the sideline even though they couldn’t have fans in attendance because of Lee’s Summit North’s COVID-19-related restrictions. Select fans for the home team, wearing masks, were scattered along the bleachers.
Free State also came through with a key stop on fourth down to halt a promising drive by the Broncos. Williams and seniors Anthony Barberena and Ben Stallard were among the Firebirds to sniff out a run to the right on fourth and 3.
Yet a sequence on Free State’s next offensive trip ultimately sealed the deal.
Elijah Harshaw and Williams each had a decent run on the first two plays, earning a first down after the second attempt, to start the drive. Dineen then threw two incomplete passes, which should have meant it was third and 10 for the visitors. That is also what the scoreboard in the stadium showed at the time.
But the officials had it as fourth down, so the Firebirds were forced to punt from their side of the field. Stewart threw his clipboard in frustration, but the officials did not change the down.
The ensuing snap sailed over the punter’s head, setting up great field position for the Broncos. Lee’s Summit North scored four plays later on a 1-yard plunge by Baker, grabbing a 28-0 lead in the final minute of the first half.
“They basically just took away a down from us,” Stewart said. “I was asking them to explain it, and they said there was no explanation because they all had fourth down. I didn’t have timeouts left, so we had to run the punt team out there real quick, and it was a bad snap. That was another mistake that puts us behind.”
To Free State’s credit, the players continued to show plenty of fight the rest of the night. Williams, who got more offensive snaps this week, took advantage of the opportunity and scored on an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second half. He finished with over 100 yards on the ground to lead the FSHS offense.
Wood, the team’s standout kicker, connected on a 32-yard field goal and had a second-half attempt blocked that led to a big return by Lee’s Summit North. Mims then delivered the decisive blow two plays after the block with a 4-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.
The Broncos scored the final 21 points of the contest, leading to a running clock for much of the fourth quarter.
“I liked that they didn’t quit,” Stewart said of his team.
It won’t get any easier for the Firebirds in their quest for their first win of the 2020 season. Free State will travel to Mill Valley (No. 1 in Class 5A) in Week 5.
Lee’s Summit North 49, Free State 10
FSHS | LSN
First downs 8 | 18
Rushes-yards 33-182 | 34-232
Passing yards 12 | 116
Total offense 194 | 348
Fumbles-lost 1-1 | 0-0
Interceptions 1 | 2
Penalties-yards 1-5 | 6-50
Score by quarters
Free State 0 3 7 0 — 10
Lee North 21 7 14 7 — 49
FSHS: Jet Dineen 9-41; Elijah Harshaw 7-44; Jacobee Williams 8-111; Dylan Farrel 5-10. Sacks: 4-(minus 24)
LSN: Isaiah Mims 16-156; Tre Baker 3-14; Elijah Mozee 10-40; Justin Gray 3-15; Terryon Wilson 2-7. Sacks 0-0.
FSHS: Jet Dineen 3-for-12 for 12 yards
LSN: Tre Baker 11-for-19 for 116 yards
FSHS: Jake Patchen 1-6; Elijah Harshaw 1-(minus 1); Manny Epelle 1-7.
LSN: Logan Muckey 3-42; Gracen Bell 2-22; Jarrell Griffin 1-7; Devin Blayney 4-33; Adrien Block 1-12.
HOW THEY SCORED
10:31 — Isaiah Mims 8 run. Seth Simpson kick good. (LSN 7, FS 0)
3:34 — Mims 30 run. Simpson kick good. (LSN 14, FS 0)
53.9 — Tre Baker 1 run. Simpson kick good. (LSN 21, FS 0)
53.9 — Baker 1 run. Simpson kick good. (LSN 28, FS 0)
0..4 — Joey Wood 32 field goal good. (LSN 28, FS 3)
11:39 — Williams 80 run. Wood kick good. (LSN 28, FS 10)
3:49 — Mims 4 run. Simpson kick good. (LSN 35, FS 10)
3:35 — Logan Muckey 17 pass from Baker. Simpson kick good. (LSN 42, FS 10)
11:21 — Logan Muckey 20 pass from Baker. Simpson kick good. (LSN 49, FS 10)