SMNW football drops overtime decision against Olathe Northwest
On paper, it was hard to tell the difference between Olathe Northwest's and Shawnee Mission Northwest's football teams on Friday, but the only difference was one yard.
After a double overtime push-and-pull battle, the Ravens outlasted the Cougars with a goal-line stand to win the game, 21-14.
“This will be one I’ll remember for a long time,” said Ravens tight end Chase Gitlin.
On the two-yard line, the Cougars were looking at a fourth-down attempt to tie the game at 21 after the Ravens had scored on their offensive possession to start the second overtime period. The Cougars came out in an I-formation and handed the ball to their workhorse senior running back Jacob Gilliam, who had accumulated 83 yards on 17 attempts up to that point.
Gilliam had nowhere to go. The Ravens' defensive front, anchored by Randal Byers, held its ground after allowing a one-yard push by Gilliam and forced him to the ground short of the end-zone.
Both teams are coming off 2-7 seasons and both coaches are in the infancy of their time at each school — Ravens head coach Chip Sherman who, in his first year with the Ravens after spending four years at SM East, began his tenure with a win and SM Northwest coach Linn Hibbs being in his second season. Both schools have senior leadership on offense but are relatively young in all other aspects of the game.
All the similarities off the field manifested in eerily similar statistics on Friday. The Ravens barely outperformed the Cougars in total yards, 286 to 272. SM Northwest quarterback Jake Horner, who played wide receiver last year, accumulated 102 yards on the ground, including the game-tying touchdown with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. Horner also passed for 74 yards.
Olathe Northwest quarterback Cole Dahlquist, who split time with junior quarterback Jack Hatzfield throughout the game, took over in the overtime periods and scored the game-winning touchdown. On a quarterback option around the edge of the stingy Cougars defense, Dahlquist faked a pitch to his running back Cody Sestrich and twisted himself into the end zone.
Other than scoring once in each of the overtime periods, the Ravens were held scoreless for an overwhelming majority of the game.
“This game really showed our character,” Sherman said. “We left a lot of points on the field but these kids showed a lot of heart.”
Dahlquist, like his game-winning run, ran in a 15-yard option on the Ravens’ first play from scrimmage just 15 seconds into the game. The opportunity came after his defense forced the first of four Cougars turnovers.
The SM Northwest defense then became more stout. The Cougars held strong with two goal-line stands and seven consecutive three-and-outs in the second half.
With 8:30 left in the first quarter, the Ravens had three chances to get the ball across the goal line from within the Cougars’ three-yard line. Each run was met with unbending resistance. Finally, on a fourth-and-goal attempt from the one, Dahlquist attempted to sneak the ball in and was met by a wall of orange and black. Then, in a frantic two-minute drill before the half, Olathe Northwest drove the ball 70 yards on an 11-play drive again to the Cougars’ three-yard line. Again, the Cougars held firm, stopping a fourth-down screen pass to Sestrich on the two-yard line with two seconds left on the clock.
Offensively, SM Northwest was unable to capitalize on its defensive stands.
“The turnovers are what eventually decide these types of games,” Hibbs said.
Dahlquist, having scored two touchdowns in the overtime periods, may have solidified his role as starter although Sherman would not say if that decision had been made. Dahlquist ended the game with 107 yards passing and completed 14 of his 28 passing attempts. Hatzfeld passed for 57 yards on 7 of 11 attempts.
The Cougar defense double-covered Gitlin most of the game successfully, only allowing him a total of 68 yards for the entire game on a dozen targets, until the first overtime when he caught a five yard pass from Dahlquist to tie the first overtime.
SM Northwest will head to Sunflower League heavyweight Free State on Friday.
“We’re disappointed with the outcome but we’re excited about the effort,” Hibbs said. “We’re going to build on this effort.”