Blue Springs South qualified for the Class 6 state football playoffs on its own.

Blue Springs South qualified for the Class 6 state football playoffs on its own.

With Blue Springs’ 43-23 win over Columbia Rock Bridge Friday night, the Jaguars would have finished second in District 7 and qualified for sectionals, regardless of Friday’s outcome against Liberty. But South approached its regular-season finale as one it had to win. Thus, when Liberty took an 18-0 first-quarter lead within the opening 10 minutes, the Jaguars stormed back by outscoring the Blue Jays 46-7 the rest of the way for a 46-25 victory at William Jewell College.

“It’s always nice if Game 10 means something, rather than just (being the final game),” South coach Greg Oder said.

The Jaguars (7-3, 3-1 Suburban Big Six, 2-1 district) have been in situations where their season ended with the final game of the regular season, regardless of the outcome, Oder said.

“It means a lot just to have the week of preparation, knowing that it’s up to us (to qualify),” he said.

South will face Rockhurst in sectionals next Friday at Rockhurst High School. The Hawklets defeated the Jaguars 24-17 in overtime in Week 3.

“We’ve just got to work hard this week, like we did the past two weeks, take nothing for granted from here on,” said defensive back Levi Riley, who contributed an interception to South’s win over Liberty. “Because if we lose, we’re out.”

 Liberty finished 3-6 overall, 0-5 in the league and 0-3 in the district with Friday’s loss. Liberty coach Joel Wells felt said the Blue Jays’ performance in the finale reflected their character.

“They were 3-6 coming in here against one of the top five teams in the class and really battled them,” Wells said. “I’m really proud of our kids. Our kids have a ton of heart.”

The Blue Jays showed their willingness to fight by scoring on their first three possessions to stake their 18-point first-quarter lead. Quarterback Austin Weese’s 1-yard run capped their opening possession, a seven-play, 80-yard drive. Lucas Norton’s 2-yard run capped the second possession, an eight-play, 87-yard drive. Kurt Petroll’s interception return set up Weese’s 11-yard TD run with 1:57 left in the quarter.

South recovered a muffed punt to set up Chris Gilyard’s 18-yard TD run. Liberty answered on its next possession, a four-play, 80-yard drive capped by Jameson Drew’s 23-yard scoring run with 10:43 left the second quarter.

Steven Sullivan gave South’s comeback hopes a jolt by ripping off a 44-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-one with 5:01 left. Connor Harris booted the point after to cut Liberty’s lead to 25-14.

“I made something happen from what my line did,” Sullivan said.

A fumble recovery set up Harris’ 25-yard field goal with 2:18 left. Trailing 25-17 at halftime, the Jaguars reminded themselves to not panic during the second half, Oder said.

“(We wanted to) try to get a good drive going, execute, not make mistakes,” Oder said.

The Jaguars got three “good” drives going during the third quarter. The first resulted in Gilyard’s 17-yard TD run and reception of Calvin Jacobson’s two-point conversion pass with 10:58 left. Riley then intercepted Weese to set up South’s five-play, 32-yard drive, capped by Jacobson’s scoring pass to Blake Horne on an inside slant pattern and Harris’ point after with 8:06 left.

“We ran a coverage to where I just got to the flats,” Riley said of his interception. “I saw him drop back and went to the flats, and he basically threw it where I was going.”

A short Liberty punt set up South’s three-play scoring drive, capped by Gilyard’s 16-yard run and Harris’ extra point with 4:53 remaining.

The Jaguars recovered another fumble to set up their final touchdown, an 81-yard run by Donnell Alexander with 3:43 left in the fourth quarter that finished off South’s comeback..