Blue Springs’ defense made big play after big play.
And with Lee’s Summit North having the football on its side of the field with less than 30 seconds and down eight, not surprisingly, the defense came through again.
Broncos quarterback Nathan Webb scrambled around trying to find an open receiver. The pocket broke down and he was sacked by Johnnie Middleton, Blue Springs’ fourth of the day, and with the Broncos having no timeouts, the clock expired.
After the play, Wildcats coach Kelly Donohoe ran along the sideline firing off multiple fist pumps after his team pulled out a 23-15 win Friday at Peve Stadium.
The Wildcats’ shut down North’s running game, limiting running backs Chase Swisher and Tory Hicks Jr. to 45 yards on a combined 21 carries.
“Our defense was outstanding,” Donohoe said. “We’ve done a really nice job the past few weeks shutting team’s run games down. That’s always our No. 1 emphasis. Defense is where you win championships, and we were really good there tonight.”
The only significant damage done by the North offense was done by star receiver Cameron Hairston, who had 131 yards receiving on six receptions.
“He’s been putting up some numbers, let me tell you,” North coach Jamar Mozee said. “He should get some type of award for being a great receiver.”
For most of the first half, it was a defensive struggle. North’s Brad Bennett nailed a 39-yard field goal to make it 3-0 before Blue Springs’ Tristin Williams tied it with a 23-yarder with 4:29 left in the first.
After getting the ball to the Wildcat 14, North ended up settling for a Bennett 31-yard field goal to make it 6-3 with 26.2 seconds left in the first half.
The Blue Springs offense then got its biggest play of the game. With 18 seconds left, and the ball at their own 44 after a 24-yard return by Codie Bell, Wildcats signal caller Dylan Cowling bombed a 56-yard TD pass to Kori Cheatham, who got behind the Bronco defense for a 10-6 halftime lead.
“I figured they would take a shot there,” Mozee said. “We just flat out got beat on that play.”
Added Cowling: “My offensive line gave me all day to throw there. Kori ran a great route and made a great catch.”
The Broncos (5-4, 2-3 Big Six) later got a safety after Wildcat punter Josh Dodge couldn’t grab a high snap as the ball rolled through the back of the end zone, making it 10-8 early in the fourth.
North went three-and-out and got the ball deep in its own territory on its next drive, but a fumble by Swisher was recovered by Bell to set up Blue Springs at the North 8.
“They kept on running the same play on first down, so we played in a zone,” Bell said. “We read it, and once I saw the ball on the ground, I was able to fall on it.”
On a third-and-goal, Cowling hit tight end Tanner Taula on a fade route to give his team a 17-8 edge with 4:31 remaining.
North wasn’t about to go away quietly, though. Duane Hampton returned the ensuing kickoff 81 yards for the score to cut it to 17-15.
But Bell, as he did most of the game, had an answer. He returned the kickoff 46 yards to the North 32, his second of 40 yards or more. The Wildcats (4-5, 4-1) churned the clock with first-down runs by Tresten Spruell and Caleb Marquez. Spruell capped off the drive with a 1-yard run on a left toss. The extra point was missed to make it 23-15 with 1:21 left.
North got the ball back but came up short.
“They stopped our run but we put too many balls on the ground in the passing game,” said Mozee, whose team completed just 8 of 25 passes.