the north face duffel bag blocks extra point to survive Lutheran North in Class 2 semifinal
Junior defensive back Dylan Hill blocked the game tying point after kick with 7 minutes and 9 seconds remaining in regulation to give Lamar a 7 6 win over Lutheran North in a semifinal Saturday at LaMothe Field on the campus of Lutheran North.
The No. Friday at Faurot Field in Columbia.
“For me, what I believe and what I enjoy, this is football. This is the type of football I enjoy,” Bailey said. “It was a tight, close game to the end and either team could have won it.”
The No. 3 team in Class 2 and the No. Lamar’s six consecutive championships are a state record. It has won 10 consecutive district titles. Saturday was its ninth consecutive semifinal.
And it was wounded. Starting running back Michael Danner did not play after suffering an injury in Lamar’s quarterfinal win over Ava. Three time champion quarterback Stuart McKarus did not suit up, either.
“We had a lot more guys today playing on both sides of the ball than we have previously due to injury,” Bailey said. “We just told them, we don’t have a choice. We have to have guys step up and play and you’re the best we’ve got.”
On a field filled with standouts, none made a bigger impact than Lamar running back and defensive end Cooper Lucas. The 5 foot 11 and 210 pound Lucas scored the game’s first touchdown when he broke through the right side of the line and rolled for a 45 yard touchdown with 8:50 remaining.
He finished with 102 yards on 14 carries.
“I tripped, then I saw the hole and I just hit it,” Lucas said.
Junior Duncan Gepner carried 22 times for 75 yards. He attempted one pass that was batted down at the line.
Lucas spent much of his afternoon in Lutheran North’s backfield. The Crusaders made their hay all season with a power rushing attack that relied on speed, deception and toughness.
Lucas chased down their stable of running backs like he was calf roping. He finished with four tackles for loss.
“They dominated us up front. They posed a lot of problems for us. Their defensive tackles dominated the game,” said Reed,
Lutheran North’s coach. “We’ve been controlling the line of scrimmage all year, but today they controlled it and that was the difference.”
Lutheran North gave itself a chance when junior quarterback Josh Hopkins faked a handoff and boot legged to the right side. With the defense swaying to the left he raced 30 yards for the touchdown that made it 7 6 with 7:09 to play.
The Tigers hadn’t been in such a pressure packed situation this season but put their attention on the next play.
“We’ve talked about it all year,” senior defensive end TW Ayers said. “We’re all mad they scored on us, but we have to flush that and go to try and block that play. That can make the difference in a game.”
The snap wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t perfect. It allowed Hill to break around the right side and block senior Tim Branneky’s kick.
“We practice that and knew we had to block it, we had to,” Lucas said. “We had to stay on top.”
Lutheran North had one more chance. It forced Lamar to punt on fourth and 4 at its own 48. Lucas, the punter, couldn’t catch the snap cleanly, scrambled to pick up the loose ball and was taken down for a 4 yard loss with 3:53 remaining.
Lutheran North picked up one first down but faced fourth and 3 at the Lamar 24 with 59.7 seconds to play.
Senior running back Canaan Brooks went into the heart of the line for a 1 yard gain.
Lamar found a way to play one more day.
“It was a fun game to play in,” Ayers said. “This is the kind of game you dream about, just pounding it out on the line. Whoever blocks and tackles the best is going to win the game.”
Lutheran North came up one play, one block,
one tackle short. It was devastating for a senior class that made this season a glorious one for the Crusaders and their fans. They won their first conference title since 2002. They played the first night game in school history. It took a historic opponent to bring it to an end.