Firebirds break Lancers’ magic spell, hand SM East first loss of season in overtime

Free State's tough defense kept the Lancers off the board until late in the third quarter.
Free State’s tough defense kept the Lancers off the board until late in the third quarter.

Lawrence Free State on Friday found a way to break the Lancer Magic spell, handing Shawnee Mission East its first loss of the season — but not without the Lancers setting the stage for what looked to be another dramatic finish.

Free State’s tough defense stymied SM East through much of the first three quarters, and the Firebirds looked to be sitting on a relatively safe 10 point lead until the Lancers gutted out a long drive at the end of the third quarter and scored on a Christian Blessen keeper.

The Lancers kept Free State’s offense at bay as the fourth quarter got under way, but their trouble with fumbles — they lost the ball on consecutive possessions — put them in a tight spot as regulation wound down: After a Free State punt, the Lancers took the ball back on their own four yard line with just 1:39 to play.

But the Lancers strung together a fast-paced drive that put them near the endzone with :38 seconds remaining. On a fourth down, senior Colin Burns kicked a field goal to tie it at 10, and a defensive stop by the Lancers sent the game to overtime.

Having been down this road the previous week, it was hard to imagine the Lancers not finding a way to pull off the victory…but Free State scored first in overtime on an easy run play, and the Lancers couldn’t find a way to respond. The game ended with an incomplete pass on fourth down.

The loss takes SM East to 5-1 on the season — where they are now tied atop the Sunflower League with Free State.

The Lancers take on 1-5 SM Northwest next week in the first week of the league’s three-game playoff schedule.

SM East coaches wore shirts commemorating SM West's Andre Maloney, and the players wore Maloney's #29 on their helmets.
SM East coaches wore shirts commemorating SM West’s Andre Maloney, and the players wore Maloney’s #29 on their helmets.