Guild too much for SMNW to handle in loss to South
Overland Park With as many explosive players as there are presently in Sunflower League football, there may be no truer time to say that no lead is safe on Friday night.
That’s especially true to say when the other team has a running back like Gabe Guild.
The Shawnee Mission South junior tailback piled up 324 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries Friday night against Shawnee Mission Northwest as he helped rally the Raiders back from a 14-point halftime deficit to overtake the Cougars, 42-35, at Shawnee Mission South District Stadium.
“He’s a special kid,” said Northwest head coach Aaron Barnett of Guild. “He’s as good a running back as I’ve ever coached against in 14 years. He’s elusive. He’s fast. He runs hard. He runs tough for not a huge guy. He’s a special guy.”
Guild recorded 205 of his rush yards in the second half after the Raiders had fallen into a 14-point hole against Northwest.
From the beginning, the game showed all the earmarks of the offensive shootout it would become. The Cougars took the opening possession and marched 65 yards in 13 plays for the opening score. Senior quarterback Colton Dirks punctuated the drive by finding wide open sophomore running back Devin Shockley open on a rollout pass to the left and connecting with him on a 19-yard touchdown pass. Though the extra point was missed, the Cougars had a 6-0 lead with 6:34 left in the first quarter.
South responded with a quick, 77-yard drive of seven plays. South senior quarterback Alex Forslund made the drive pay off when he kept the ball on an option to the right side and dashed 33 yards for a touchdown. With the point-after-touchdown kick good from freshman kicker Dainan Swope, the Raiders had taken a 7-6 lead with 4:20 left in the period.
Dirks wasted no time in showing the crowd his own speed at quarterback. On the next play from scrimmage, Dirks faked a stretch play handoff, then turned up the middle and sprinted untouched, 77 yards for a go-ahead touchdown. Dirks put the exclamation point on the score by running the naked bootleg in for the conversion from the right side, making the score 14-7 Cougars with just 20 seconds elapsed from South’s first score.
After a long South drive came up empty, North took over on their own 22 with 8:47 left in the half. The Cougars used 11 plays to march 78 yards and scored again when Dirks and Shockley connected again, this time on a 21-yard scoring pass that made the score 21-7 Northwest when junior Jorn Winkelmolen hit the PAT at 4:13 left in the half.
That’s when South, and specifically Guild, showed their own quick strike capability.
On the next play from scrimmage, Guild took a pitch to the right side on a sweep and simply outran all pursuers as he went 73 yards down the right sideline for South’s second score. With the Swope extra point, the score was now 21-14 with 3:54 left before halftime.
The Raiders then made the questionable decision to onside kick with almost four minutes left on the clock. The kick was easily covered by Northwest junior lineman Dylan Marshall, giving the Cougars the ball in excellent field position at their own 47. Eight plays later, Dirks took the ball over on a quarterback sneak from the one-yard line and Northwest took a 28-14 lead into halftime.
The second half proved to be a reversal of fortune for the Cougars. First, the Raiders took their opening position of the third quarter and scored with it when Guild took an option pitch from Forslund and went 20 yards for his second touchdown of the night, pulling South to within seven at 28-21 with 7:40 left in the third.
The Cougars were then stopped on a three-and-out and South marched their ensuing possession 76 yards for the game-tying score when Forslund kept the ball from one-yard out. With the Swope PAT at 2:29 left in the third quarter, the Raiders had tied the game at 28-28.
Northwest needed a boost and received on the very next play. Junior wide receiver Luke Fields took the Raider kickoff at the 11 and then reversed the ball to sophomore return specialist, Jake Horner. Horner returned the ball 88 yards down the right sideline, weaving through defenders, and took the ball into the South end zone as the Cougars reclaimed a 35-28 with 2:17 left.
South began their next possession all the way back at their own 15 but, with six carries by Guild, found themselves deep in Northwest territory as the fourth quarter began. On the first play of the new period, Forslund took the ball in on a veer keeper from five yards out to pull the Raiders to within one. However, on the PAT attempt, Northwest senior defensive lineman Eric Pinkelman burst through the South line and blocked the kick, allowing Northwest to keep the lead at 35-34 with 11:55 left to play.
The Raider defense proved stalwart again and forced another three-and-out by the Northwest offense. The Raiders then marched 71 yards in 11 plays. Guild, fittingly, then scored the go-ahead touchdown when he took a pitch sweep to the right in from 12 yards out, then ran the same play again for a two-point conversion, giving South their first lead since 7-6 in the first quarter.
Still, there seemed to be more than enough time for the Cougars to rally for a tying score as South held their 42-35 advantage as the Cougars started a drive at their own 31. However, on fourth-and-three from the South 38, a slip screen pass from Dirks fell incomplete as the quarterback faced stiff pressure from the Raider front line.
Dirks led the way for the Cougars offensively with 113 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on 10 carries. Dirks also was four-for-eight passing for 56 yards and two touchdowns. Senior running back Danny Manning carried the ball 24 times for 106 yards rushing while Shockley caught two passes for 40 yards and two touchdowns receiving.
“We’ll circle the Wagons,” Barnett said after the game. “We’ll be good. We’ll be fine. We’ll compete. We’re going to try and cut down on our mistakes and get some things corrected, comeback next week and compete our tail off.”
The Cougars are now 1-4 on the season.