Big plays guide Shawnee Mission East to 40-point win against SM Northwest

SM East senior running back Nigil Houston hits the corner before springing for a 79-yard touchdown run.
SM East senior running back Nigil Houston hits the corner before springing for a 79-yard touchdown run.

As the stadium lights went out for the band’s light show, so too did the lights on Shawnee Mission Northwest’s season.

Shawnee Mission East used a combination of long passes, long runs and a long interception return to down the Cougars 55-15.

The first two plays the Lancers ran, both went for touchdowns.

The first came on a play-action pass from senior quarterback Luke Kaiser to senior receiver Trevor for 58 yards.

After 13 plays and a failed fourth down by SM Northwest, senior running back Nigil Houston hit the edge and found some room to run before cutting and weaving back and forth between his blockers and Cougar defenders as he took it 79 yards.

“I try to make the most of anything I get,” Houston said. “I’m always shooting for a big play, but I can’t get a big play, whatever gets the team down the field I’m willing to do.

“When I hit the corner, coach always tells me hit the corner hard and it was all up to my blockers after that. I read my blocks and it was to the house after that.”

The rout was on.

Thompson would score three touchdowns on the night including a 59-yard reception and a nine-yard run.

Kaiser also threw a 28-yard score to senior receiver Sky Tate.

Houston continued the trend of big plays in the second half as he took a 24-yard pass from Kaiser for a score.

SM East’s defense did have some issues tackling in the first half, which resulted in the Cougars extending drives.

Instead of wrapping up and stopping their man at initial point of contact, the Lancers went for big hits and the Cougars would bounce right off and gain additional yardage.

At halftime, coach Dustin Delaney addressed the tackling issue and SM East was much better as they didn’t allow any second half points.

But when the defense needed big stops they got them. They stood tall on a fourth and 10 from its own 21 in the first quarter.

They stopped the Cougars on a fourth and goal from its own three thanks to an illegal touching by a Cougar lineman.

The Cougars effectively ran the screen in the first half, but the Lancers caught on.

As SM Northwest was driving at the end of the first half, sophomore defensive lineman PJ Spencer put a stop to that as he intercepted a Spencer Stewart shove pass and took it 70 yards for a score.

“Coach let us know, ‘You have to sit on that screen, you can’t be running up field,’” Spencer said. “I sat on it and ended up at the right place at the right time.

“I honestly don’t remember catching it. It fell into my hands and I was like, ‘Oh, have to go,’ and I started running.”

In the second half senior linebacker Eli McDonald sacked Stewart for 13 yards to set up a 4th and goal from the 20.

Another Lancer stop, but they then needed to go 99 yards.

That’s when Delaney called off the dogs and allowed his back ups to get some reps.

And like the trend on the night, the Lancers would go onto score on a 10-yard run by sophomore running back Ryan Hess.

“They ran the option, executed it and guys were blocking and carrying out the triple option,” Delaney said. “It was good to see them do that.”

Shawnee Mission Northwest did score on a 64-yard pass from Stewart to Devonte Smith. Stewart then found Smith again for 28 yards midway through the second quarter.

Also midway through the second quarter, senior running back Eli Kurlbaum went down with a left knee injury.

His status is unknown.

Shawnee Mission East will host the winner of Olathe Northwest and Gardner-Edgerton next Friday at Shawnee Mission North District Stadium.

“Nothing,” Delaney said he knew about either team. “We haven’t seen any of them. We didn’t play Northwest. I haven’t seen them on film. We’re going to go scout (on Friday).”