Even without quarterback Christian Carter and his home-run running ability, and facing a nasty Rockhurst defense, Lee's Summit North still positioned itself to take a lead late on Hawklets.
But after a field goal attempt went awry with 3:21 left, Rockhurst marched downfield and ended North's best season in two decades, as Jalan Crayton's 4-yard touchdown run 42 seconds left lifted the Hawklets to a 10-3 victory at Bronco Stadium om the Class 6 District 4 championship.
Rockhurst (10-2) will host Blue Springs on Nov. 17 in the state semifinals, while North's season ends at 9-3.
Crayton's TD run capped a nine-play drive and came three snaps after a defensive holding penalty on North on third down from the Bronco 33.
Before that, the Broncos seemed poised to take a 6-3 lead as Devin DeRousse lined up for a 31-yard field goal from the right hash. But the snap was high for holder Jack Kemper, and the ball was recovered by Rockhurst at the 35.
“I thought for sure we had them,” North coach Jamar Mozee said. “We make it, we put them in a little bind and make them have to throw the ball. Then the big, big penalty; I thought we had the stop.
“There were a lot of plays in the game, but two plays made the difference, and we didn't make them.”
The Broncos' big late chance came after Rockhurst's Owen Lawson came up short on 50-yard field goal try with 9:49 left, as they pieced together a 12-play drive from their 20. North senior running back Ontario Russell ripped off runs of 14, 12 and 17 yards, and Kemper's completion to Logan Muckey converted fourth-and-fiv before Rockhurst stiffened up.
But DeRoussehit a 43-yard field goal with some wind at his back in the third quarter to tie the game. The Broncos seemed to be in a good position.
Instead, after the muffed play, Rockhurst put together exactly the type of drive coach Tony Severino hoped to see regardless of the field goal result. Crayton (25 carries, 171 yards), a starting cornerback who took on running back duties when Michael Johnson hobbled off the field after his second carry, carried five times on the drive and caught a 19-yard pass.
“That's the way we wanted to try to approach it, and we got the big call on the penalty,” Severino said. “Jalan Crayton did a heck of a job. We've got a little stable of running backs, and our offensive line does a good job, but our kicking game is solid, and we win with our defense.”
Rockhurst claimed a 3-0 halftime lead on Lawson's 29-yard field with 5:12 left in the first half. Lawson missed a 28-yarder at the end of Rockhurst's 15-play drive to start the second half.
Meanwhile, North managed just two first downs before halftime. It's lone score came after Dubem Okonkwo forced a fumble that North recovered at the Rockhurst 28.
Carter, perhaps the most dangerous part of the Broncos' four-pronged rushing attack this season, was ruled out Friday afternoon after practicing this week, Mozee said. Carter missed the first two playoff games after a head/neck injury in regular-season finale.
Russell finished with 98 yards on 16 carries, but the Broncos had just 130 yards total, as the Hawklets limited John Eldridge and Keyon Mozee to 31 rushing yards combined. Kemper was 3-of-10 passing.
“We didn't have (Carter) the past two weeks, so our approach didn't change,” coach Mozee said. “Obviously we would've loved to have him; he was the Offensive Player of the Year in the (Suburban Big Six Conference). But we still had opportunities.”