Northwest clips North in overtime thriller
It was a game worthy of a big-time high school rivalry.
In a football game that featured everything: big runs, long pass plays, crucial interceptions, special teams breakthroughs, and one final, defensive stand, the Shawnee Mission Northwest football team edged its Sunflower League archrival Shawnee Mission North 41-34 in overtime Friday night at Shawnee Mission North District Stadium.
After barreling out to a 20-0 halftime lead, the Cougars of Northwest had to withstand a furious barrage of North offense as the Indians came from 27-7 down in the third quarter to score 27 straight points, taking a seven-point lead with 8:11 left to go. However, Northwest forced a North punt from deep inside the Indians’ territory and got the ball back at the North 30 with 3:17 left in the game.
On the very next play, the Cougars faked a double reverse, flipped the ball back to senior quarterback Colton Dirks who found senior wide receiver Luke Fields streaking down the middle. Dirks just beat the Indian coverage and connected with Fields on a 30-yard touchdown pass. Senior kicker Alex Allen booted the extra point to tie the game at 34-34 with 3:09 left to play.
The Cougars had a chance to win the game in regulation after an interception by senior defensive back Danny Manning had given Northwest the ball back in good field position with 2:11 left to play. However, Allen’s 32-yard field goal attempt sailed just right as time expired.
In overtime, the Cougars returned to their power running game as Manning, now at running back, scored the winning touchdown on a 5-yard pitch sweep run to the left side. The Cougars then held the Indians on four downs and emerged with a 41-34 victory.
“My hat’s off to North,” said Northwest head coach Aaron Barnett after the game. “We played pretty well that first half, but I thought North’s kids did a good job, and their coaches did a good job by executing some plays. They got the momentum and sometimes in a rivalry game like this, the momentum gets rolling and it’s hard to stop. I didn’t feel there was much wind in our sails very often, but our kids did a good job. They bowed their backs and came on and did good.”
“I’m extremely proud of the kids,” North head coach Dennis Grayless said. “I mean, we wanted to win. We felt that we could be the district champs, and that was a big goal of these young men. Since that first week they’ve faced their fair share of adversity. Three of those six losses have been by a touchdown or less. That’s pretty tough.”
Offensively, Northwest was led by Dirks who carried the ball 13 times for 76 yards and two touchdowns while connecting on 4 of 10 passes for 54 yards and one more touchdown. Manning also piled up two rushing touchdowns while carrying the ball 24 times for 90 yards.
North was led by senior quarterback Ryan Theis who completed 7 of 16 passes for 122 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. Junior running back Henry Bell had a huge game for North, carrying the ball 12 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cougars are now 2-5 on the season and will play host to Leavenworth Thursday night at Shawnee Mission North District Stadium in the second round of district play. North will play host to Wyandotte High School on Friday night for their second district game.