Second quarter costly for Northwest against Olathe East
It looked like the Shawnee Mission Northwest football team was ready to hand Olathe East an unwelcome surprise.
After the Hawks commanded much of the first with a nearly eight-minute scoring drive to take an early 7-0 lead, the Cougars answered right back with a 90-yard kickoff return from senior speedster Duan Johnson to pull back even. After the Cougars stopped East on its next possession, it appeared Northwest was ready to seize momentum. However, the Hawks’ defense forced a safety as the second quarter began, then followed that up with a 65-yard kick return for a touchdown by senior wide receiver Junior Williams. In a space of 12 seconds East had scored nine points and seized command on its way to a 37-20 victory Friday night at Shawnee Mission North District Stadium.
“It was a tough swing,” said Northwest head coach Aaron Barnett of the safety and return by East that led to a 23-point Hawk second quarter. “One of their best defensive players, (Matthew) Baltimore, made an outstanding play on our quarterback to get a safety. At the time it didn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it ended up being huge by the end of the game.”
Northwest did manage to cut the score to 30-14 by halftime when a quick two-minute drive resulted in a 5-yard touchdown run from senior running back Danny Manning with just 4.7 seconds left in the half. Key on the drive was a 28-yard pass completion from senior quarterback Colton Dirks to senior wide receiver Blake Evans with 13 seconds left to play before the break.
In fact, the Cougars made a game of it in the second half when Dirks completed a slip screen pass to sophomore wide receiver Jake Horner, who busted it up the middle 54 yards for a touchdown with 1:14 left in the third quarter. Though the 2-point conversion fell short, the Cougars had pulled to within 10 with another quarter yet to play.
Though the Northwest defense stiffened in the second half, East was still able to convert two crucial third downs and one huge fourth down to extend its final scoring drive.
Dirks led the way offensively for the Cougars going 5-for-10 through the air for 106 yards and a touchdown while also carrying the ball 10 times for 30 yards. Manning was the Cougars’ leading ground gainer with 86 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries. Evans hauled in two catches for 33 yards.
The Cougars are now 1-5 on the season and begin district play next Friday against Shawnee Mission North.
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