Until Friday, they hadn’t had any occasion to use it this season. But it turns out SM East still has plenty of Lancer Magic left in its pouch.
With a gutsy two-point conversion in the second overtime of a 6A substate game that exceeded high expectations for excitement, SM East edged Olathe North 36-35 and earned the right to play in its second consecutive state title game.
After running back Wyatt Edmisten barreled into the end zone on fourth down to score the touchdown the Lancers needed to stay alive, head coach Dustin Delaney instructed his team to line up for a two-point conversion instead of the extra point field goal that would have tied the game. Quarterback Gunnar Englund pitched the ball to senior running back Sam Huffman, who sprinted toward the sideline. From the looks of it, Olathe North’s defense — which had kept the Lancers’ prolific offense largely in check during regulation — appeared to have Huffman beat as he swept to the right.
But instead of heading for the front corner of the end zone, Huffman broke sharply toward the goal line, finding just enough room to score and secure the Lancers’ win — and their chance to make the 2014 Lancers squad the first in school history to win a state football title.
Here’s a look at the play:
Here's the unbelievably ballsy game-winning play by SME on the two-point conversion. https://t.co/4XQEqxaGVu
— Eli Underwood (@eliunderwood) November 22, 2014
“It was pretty cloudy, everything was covered,” Huffman said after the game. “I saw a tiny hole and put my foot in the ground and went as hard as I could in there.”
The play sent the SM East crowd into a frenzy, with fans rushing down onto the field, as the dejected Olathe North team headed toward the sidelines, its season over.
While the first half was largely unremarkable save for the speed with which it expired — less than an hour — the second half provided all the drama and momentum shifts fans could have hoped to see from a battle of the Sunflower League’s two unbeatens.
Olathe North, which trailed 7-0 at the half, took a third quarter lead with the help of two botched plays by the Lancers. The Eagles’ Chaz Burgess returned an intercepted pass from Englund 81 yards for a score to make it 7-7. On the ensuing possession, the Eagles blocked an SM East punt, giving them excellent field position that set up a Venus Triplett touchdown.
The Lancers stormed back to score twice in the fourth quarter, once on a 48-yard run from Huffman, and again on a five-yard run from Wyatt Edmisten. The Lancers looked to be in good position to take the victory in regulation, but Eagles quarterback Cole Murphy found Burgess in the back corner of the end zone on a fourth and 11 with :47 on the clock to tie the game at 21 and force overtime.
The Lancers needed all four downs to score a touchdown in both rounds of overtime. Delaney didn’t appear to hesitate at all when he made the decision to go for two — and the win — after the second overtime touchdown.
“We play aggressive,” Delaney said. “I’d go for two every time. If we’re going to lose, we’re going to lose playing aggressive and throwing everything out there. And that’s what we did tonight.”
The Lancers will face the Hutchinson Salt Hawks, the team for which Delaney served as offensive coordinator from 2006-2009, in the state championship game at 1 p.m. next Saturday, Nov. 29, at Welch Stadium on the campus of Emporia State University. Last year, the Lancers came within a touchdown of winning the state title, which would have been the school’s first, falling to Derby 21-28.
“We’ve got some unfinished business,” said Delaney.