The Pioneers comeback from down 13 points fell just short in an 18-16 Homecoming loss to Olathe South Friday night.
Leavenworth may have dropped to 1-2 after the loss, but head coach Mark Littrell went up to several individual players to hug them and congratulate them on the effort.
“Those kids battled their tails off,” Littrell said. “They did a great job. We asked them at halftime to believe and just keep playing hard, and they did it.”
Littrell was the head coach for the Falcons from 1998-2007 and was on the staff for 27 years, but he made it clear that this game wasn't about him coaching against his old school.
“It didn't matter who it was,” he said. “This was about these kids right here. Not about me, not about Olathe South.”
The score was 16-3 after some sloppy play in the first half, but the second half became a different story.
The first comeback was a 10-yard touchdown run by senior running back Jason Randall on Leavenworth's first drive of the second half after the Olathe South Falcons' punter had to fall on the ball after bobbling the snap to put the Pioneers 23 yards from the goal line.
The crowd started chanting “Jason Randall” after that score made it 16-10 Falcons.
The Pioneers then forced a punt, but it was downed at the 1-yard line. Junior quarterback Landry Hodges was taken down in the end zone after having problems with the snap.
The safety made it 18-10 with 4:04 left in the third quarter.
The Falcons then drove inside the 5-yard line, but the Pioneers defense didn't give up.
Leavenworth recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchback late in the third quarter, which led to a 34-yard touchdown run by Randall to get the Pioneers within two points.
Randall ended up with 176 yards and two touchdowns on the night after being named Homecoming king.
Hodges overthrew senior receiver TJ Stinson and the conversion failed.
After both teams turned the ball over on downs and a Falcons punt, the Pioneers got the ball with 1:31 left with no timeouts remaining.
A pass interference penalty on the second play of the drive put the Pioneers near midfield, but two sacks, a spike and an interception on a desperation throw downfield allowed the Falcons to run out the clock.
“They were resilient after week one and now to play a team like this and have them on the ropes, and we had our chances, but it will make us better,” Littrell said.
The difference in the score may have been at the end of the first half.
There was some confusion because the clock ran out after a run by the Falcons, but one second was put back on after the officials granted a timeout to Olathe South.
Page 2 of 2 - It allowed the Falcons to put three more points on the board after making a 36-yard field goal.
“They said they called timeout with a second on the clock and we can't dispute anything,” Littrell said.
After this performance, Littrell said his team will be ready to play when it travels to Shawnee Mission Northwest on Thursday for the first road game of the season.
Immaculata 30, Jayhawk-Linn 38
Pleasant Ridge 44, Oskaloosa 14
The Rams have won two in a row after winning at Oskaloosa.
Pleasant Ridge had 471 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
Sophomore quarterback Nick Holmes had 139 of those and two touchdowns.
Tonganoxie 28, Piper 0
The Chieftains are 3-0 after blowing out Piper 28-0.
Running back Cole Holloway had 99 yards on the ground.
Basehor-Linwood 0, Mill Valley 38
The Bobcats lost 38-0 in a rescheduled game because of Thursday's storms.
Mill Valley had 263 yards rushing compared to 31 for Basehor.