As his players stood up from their post-game huddle, John Crutcher looked at their faces and made sure they were dry, that no tears were being shed.

As his players stood up from their post-game huddle, John Crutcher looked at their faces and made sure they were dry, that no tears were being shed.

Sure, William Chrisman had lost its first football game of the year, 40-28 to Lee’s Summit. But the Bears (0-1) turned the game into a dogfight and even had the Tigers (1-0) against the ropes late in the game.

After a performance like that against a tough opponent like Lee’s Summit, Crutcher said his guys had nothing to be upset about.

“It’s a very good performance by us,” Crutcher said. “We came up a little short there in the end, a couple of mistakes here and there, and we got a little tired there at the end.”

The game coming down to just a few mistakes was a far cry from the way it started out.

Lee’s Summit looked poised to hand the Bears a beating as they marched to a 16-0 lead just 3:29 into the first quarter.

The Tigers took the ball and drove it 81 yards in three plays. Lee’s Summit quarterback Justin Givens connected with King Frazier on an 8-yard touchdown pass. Brevin Letner knocked in the extra point.

The Tigers took a 14-0 lead on a short drive that followed a Bears’ blocked punt. Givens finished that drive off with a 1-yard quarterback dive. Again, Letner knocked the extra point through.

Another special teams flub cost the Bears two more points as a punt snap sailed over the punter’s head and into the end zone for a safety.

“We came out with first-game jitters,” Crutcher said. “As soon as we settled down, we started playing our style of football.”

It was a rough start for the Bears, but things quickly smoothed out.

Chrisman’s defense started to hold, and that offense started to gain momentum.

The Bears finally got on the board with 2 minutes left in the first half when Shaquille Prior scampered in for a 14-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion was good putting the Bears down 16-8.

Chrisman had a chance to tie the game midway through the third quarter when quarterback Dylan Cole connected with Prior for a 74-yard touchdown pass.

The Bears couldn’t convert on the two-point try, allowing the Tigers to hold onto their lead.

Lee’s Summit extended that lead with a 22-yard field goal by Letner with 4:49 left in the third quarter.

The lead lasted for a while until a 16-yard touchdown pass from Cole to Jordan Warner and the ensuing two-point conversion gave the Bears a lead with 7:09 remaining.

The Tigers answered immediately as Givens tucked a ball into the back corner of the end zone for Nick Howe.

The Bears weren’t going away as Cole and Prior again hooked up for a long touchdown. This time Prior said he knew he needed to get in.

“I was just like ‘I’ve got to get in for my team,’” Prior said. “That’s what I did. Dylan made a great throw and I got it in for him.”

The Tigers slugged right back as Alonzo Page capped a 35-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.

The Bears had just under 90 seconds to pull off a huge upset.

Any hopes of an upset were quickly dampened when Cole threw an interception, which Antonio Smith returned for a touchdown.

All hopes were crushed when Cole lay on the field unmoving after the play. He was eventually helped off the field and never returned.

It was a tough end to a good game for the Bears.

But it could be the means for something better.

“We’ll go back and watch the film and get better and correct the mistakes that we made in that first quarter,” Crutcher said.

He said his players can gain a bunch of confidence and experience from playing a talented team like the Tigers early in the season.

“It’s good experience for our kids,” Crutcher said. “They know what a physical game is going to be like. They know what good competition is going to be like.

“We’ll build on that for the rest of the season.”

Prior echoed his coach’s sentiments. He said this loss could be the springboard the Bears needed to become a contender.

“We needed this,” Prior said. “This is about to change our whole season. We’re fixing to come out harder every game. Run hard. Defense is going to hit hard. It’s going to be a good season for us.”

The game also gave the Bears plenty to work on. Crutcher said No. 1 on that list is execution.

“Execution is crucial ... first quarter, second quarter, third quarter, fourth quarter,” Crutcher said. “The biggest thing we’ve got to work on is execution.”