Despite dominating the game in terms of time of possession, rushing yards, and 1st downs, the Gardner-Edgerton High School football team couldn’t match the big-play capability of Olathe South, falling to the Falcons 34-30 night at Gardner-Edgerton District Activities Center. Photos courtesy of Photoexpectations.com
Despite dominating the game in terms of time of possession, rushing yards, and 1st downs, the Gardner-Edgerton High School football team couldn’t match the big-play capability of Olathe South, falling to the Falcons 34-30 at Gardner-Edgerton District Activities Center.
The lead changed hands five times over the course of the contest, with the Blazers effectively utilizing a pounding ground game and South scoring four touchdowns from 22 yards out or more — including two of over 60 yards.
After the game Jesse Owen, head coach, spoke about the defensive lapses that cost the Trailblazers early in the contest.
“We’ve got to eliminate big plays,” said Owen. “Our defense has been playing their tail off all year long, and the offense hasn’t been helping them. Tonight, the offense did a little better, but we had a couple of miscues. We had a tremendous miscue on the punt unit for two weeks in a row. Those are things that need to be cleaned up. You can’t win football games if you don’t play a complete game in all three phases. We can’t be on with one unit and off with another. We have to complement each other and everyone’s got to bring their ‘A’ game, so that will be the focus next week.”
The Gardner-Edgerton offense definitely looked “on” to start the game. After senior tailback Lucas Anderson’s 28-yard kickoff return gave GEHS the ball at their own 44, the Blazers hammered at Olathe South’s interior, marching 56 yards in 10 plays. Anderson punctuated the drive for the home team when, on fourth-and-two at the Falcons’ four-yard line, he took a pitch from senior quarterback Jake McClure wide to the right side and raced in for the score. Though the Blazers would miss the point-after attempt, they still held a 6-0 lead with 5:57 left to play in the quarter.
It took South only one play to level the score. On their first play from scrimmage, the Falcons gave the ball to junior wide receiver Garrett Reckodt on a reverse down the right side of the field, and he took it 63 yards into the end zone for a TD. South senior kicker Dean Stotts successfully kicked the conversion and Olathe South took their first lead at 7-6 with 5:39 left in the period.
When South next kicked off to the Trailblazers, Anderson again flashed his quickness. The Blazer senior took the ball at the Gardner-Edgerton 8-yard line and raced 50 yards up the right sideline to give GEHS the ball at the Falcons’ 42. This time, it took the Traiblazers nine plays and 42 yards to hit paydirt. On 2nd-and-and goal from the Olathe South two-yard line, McClure took the snap, followed his pulling blockers around the right end of the offensive line, and sped into the end zone on the first play of the 2nd quarter. McClure then converted the PAT, and Gardner-Edgerton led 13-7 with 11:57 left in the 1st half.
However, the Falcons were ready to flash their big play capability again. On their next possession, the South offense needed only two plays to score. On 2nd-and-8 from the Olathe South 34-yard line, the Falcons’ senior quarterback Cooper Whitley found Reckrodt wide open deep down the middle of the field for a 66-yard touchdown strike. However, the Trailblazer special teams snuffed out the Falcons’ ensuing extra point attempt, and the score remained tied at 13-13 with 11:05 left before halftime.
Then disaster struck for the Blazers. On 4th-and-6 from the 50-yard line, Gardner-Edgerton lined up to punt the ball to South. However, the snap sailed over the GEHS punter’s head and was picked up by Falcons’ junior linebacker Aiden Blum, who completed the 17-yard scoop-and-score for a touchdown. With the Stotts’ conversion, Olathe South reclaimed the lead at 20-13 with 7:26 left before the break.
Starting at their own 20, the Trailblazers ground the clock down with a 15-play, 70-yard drive to the Falcons’ 10-yard line. On 4th-and-3, McClure then knocked through a 27-yard field goal to bring the Blazers back to within four at 20-16 as the 1st half ended. The Olathe South offense had run only 3 plays the entire first half.
When the second half began, the South offense picked back up where they left off. At the end of a 6-play, 59-yard drive, Whitley again found Reckrodt through the air — this time for a 22-yard touchdown connection. After Stotts’ PAT, South held a 27-16 lead with 8:44 left in the 3rd quarter.
Still, the Gardner-Edgerton offense didn’t panic and began once again laying into the Olathe South defense. Led by the power running of senior fullback Carter Dewey, GEHS drove 80 yards in 13 plays. To cap off the drive, McClure rolled out to the right on 3rd-and-goal from the Falcons’ seven-yard line then connected with Anderson on a TD pass for the Blazers third touchdown. However, the Trailblazers’ two-point conversion attempt failed, and they found themselves down 27-22 with 2:17 left in the third quarter.
The Blazer defense then stiffened on the next two Olathe South possessions and, after forcing a punt early in the 4th quarter, gave the Gardner-Edgerton offense the ball at their own 32 with 8:02 left in the contest.
On the next play from scrimmage, McClure took the ball around the right end of his offensive line and sprinted 55 yards to the South 13-yard line. Four plays later, McClure hid behind his pulling blockers running to the left side of the line and dashed in from six yards out for the go-ahead touchdown. On the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, McClure connected with junior tight end Austin Buie in the end zone, and the Blazers led 30-27 with 5:19 left.
Though a 41-yard kickoff return by the Falcons gave Olathe South great field position at the Blazer 43, the Gardner-Edgerton defense seemed ready to seal the game when they forced a fourth-and five with 2:51 left. However, after a South timeout, Whitley again connected with Reckrodt — this time on a sprint pass to the left that the receiver took 38 yards into the end zone for the game’s final touchdown. The Stotts’ extra point made the score 34-30 with 2:43 remaining.
Another solid return by Anderson gave GEHS the ball at their own 34 for the next drive. Three plays later, the Trailblazers had moved the ball to the Falcons’ 43 and faced a 2nd-and-3, but consecutive sacks by Olathe South junior defensive Jordan Allen put the Blazers into a 4th-and-22 hole with 54 seconds remaining. The ensuing GEHS hook-and-ladder attempt was mishandled, and the Falcons pounced on the ball to ensure the win.
The Gardner-Edgerton performance of the night was no doubt turned in by Dewey, who carried the ball 33 times for 177 yards and never seemed to lose power or energy.
“That’s just the type of person he is,” Owen said of his senior fullback. “He’s the kind of guy who just goes full-tilt, no matter what the task is. He scored 32 on the ACT; he’s a doer. He just gets things done.”
In addition to Dewey’s performance, GEHS also received a strong performance from McClure who rushed for 120 yards and 2 TDs on 21 carries, while also going 5-for-8 passing for 37 yards, a touchdown pass, and a 2-point conversion pass. Anderson carried the ball four times for 27 yards and one touchdown and also hauled in two receptions for 19 yards and another TD. Senior halfback Tyler Butash carried the ball four times for 42 yards and had one catch for seen yards, while sophomore wide receiver Randy Singleton had two catches for 11 yards.
The loss drops the Blazers to 0-3 on the season.