Missteps, miscues and mistakes defined Leavenworth football’s 2012 home opener on Friday.
After going toe-to-toe with Shawnee Mission South for nearly two quarters, self-inflicted blunders haunted and ultimately doomed the Pioneers. By game’s end, the home team lost 17-3 to the visiting Raiders.
“It was terrible,” LV coach Kevin Kopecky said. “I don’t know what the reason was for all the mistakes, but it’s just disappointing. The effort was there, but all the mistakes, penalties, turnovers; you can’t do that and expect to play good football.”
Things didn’t start out that bad for the Pioneers. Under a cacophony of cheers, the Pioneers opened with the first offensive play from scrimmage, an eight-yard run by running back Jason Randall. However, after a quick first down, LV was forced to punt.
On Shawnee Mission South’s first drive, the Raiders leaned heavily on star running back Gabe Guild. The plan worked until the 12-play drive stalled outside the Leavenworth red zone. The visitors settled for a 44-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead with 1:32 left in the quarter.
The Pioneers second possession again began fast. Randall rushed for 13 yards and then three plays later quarterback Judson Cole hit receiver Isaiah Ross for a 37-yard pass. Despite the surge though, Leavenworth was limited to a field goal, a 27-yard kick by Cole midway through the second period that split the uprights.
With the game knotted at 3-3, the contest entered a defensive tug-of-war. The teams’ offenses combined to go three straight series without any real consequence and it looked the score would remain tied heading into half.
“Our defense was out there all night long and they did a pretty good job so that’s something to build on,” Kopecky said.
But then the first of several key miscues by the Pioneers struck. With 40 seconds left, Ross received a SMS punt at his own 45 before entering the visitor’s territory.
There, he started to fight for extra yards and during that moment, the ball was ripped loose. Like a penny off the street, South’s Chaz Union scooped up the fumble and rushed it back 45-yards for the game’s first touchdown. The huge momentum shift made the score 10-3 at the break.
Regrouped and refocused, the Pioneers forced South to punt after one first down following half time. However, a personal foul penalty by LV pushed the ball deep into its own territory. That became the theme of the third quarter as neither team could find a rhythm offensively, but penalties and miscues including two turnovers kept Leavenworth stuck on its own side of the 50.
To start the fourth, another Pioneer penalty led to a crushing Raider touchdown. Coming out of the quarter break, LV was called for offsides at midfield during an SMS fourth-down attempt. The misstep gave the visitors new life and Guild took full advantage, racing 43 yards the very next play. A five-yard TD run by Guild followed and South went up 17-3.
From there, the Pioneers faced a task that was too tall to complete. The game, ultimately defined by LV’s self-inflicted errors, ended with South running the clock out on Leavenworth’s 10-yard line.
“I’m just very disappointed,” Kopecky said. “We did not play very good football tonight and we left our defense out on the field way too long while our offense just didn’t do anything at all.”
Unofficially, Randall finished the game with 38 yards rushing while Ross added 25. Cole was 3-for-6 passing for 44 yards and Ross had 37 yards receiving. The Pioneer offense, which was so dominated last week, had less than 150 combined yards and as a team, Leavenworth committed four turnovers.
Leavenworth, 1-1, will host Shawnee Mission Northwest next Friday at 7 p.m.
“We just can’t have those mistakes and win,” Kopecky said, “so we have to fix it and fix it quick.”
Shawnee Mission South 10, Leavenworth 3
September 7, 2012
SMS 3 7 0 7 — 17
LV 0 3 0 0 — 3
LV — 27-yd by Judson Cole (7:50 2nd)
Passing — Judson Cole 3-6-44-0
Rushing — Jason Randall 13-38
Receiving — Isaiah Ross 1-37