There were 38 seconds on the clock, the Lancers had their backs up against the wall, and they had no one to blame but themselves.
Despite a laudable performance by their defense all night long — including a sack and forced fumble that turned into a 75-yard touchdown run to put the Lancers up 21-14 with just 2:30 remaining in the game — the Lancers’ offense had coughed up five fumbles and an interception, giving Chip Sherman’s Olathe Northwest team too many opportunities, and putting the Ravens in a position to take a 22-21 lead with a two-point conversion as the final minute of regulation time wound down.
By the looks of it, Shawnee Mission East was about to walk off the field with a heartbreaking loss. The Ravens kicked off. The Lancers took possession in their own territory. And head coach Dustin Delaney told his squad to do everything they could to get in position for one last shot at the endzone.
“We said, ‘Hey, we’re going to have to try to get down there to throw the Hail Mary,” Delaney said. “We saw our play call was going to be try to pick up 15 yards a pop, get down there and see if something happens.”
With just three seconds remaining, quarterback Christian Blessen took the final snap of the night from the Ravens’ 36 yard line, and dropped back.
“I just tried to get back as far as I could and throw it as far as I could so our receivers would have time to get in the endzone and make a play,” Blessen said. “And Alec Dean did.”
Indeed, it was Dean, rushing in to the endzone a step behind a scrum of Lancers receivers and Ravens defenders who snatched Blessen’s tipped pass out of the air, clutched it to his chest, and stretched out with it in his arms as he fell to the ground.
The official threw his arm in the air to signal the touchdown — and the elation in the home-crowd bleachers was as pronounced as the sense of shock on the Ravens sideline.
“What can you say? Our kids never quit,” Delaney said. “It’s bizarre. It’s the weirdest game I’ve ever been in. We did everything wrong, and should have lost the game. Sometimes it’s better lucky than good.”
Next week the Lancers hit the road again to face 2-1 Olathe North, which beat SM North on Friday 62-14.