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BLYTHEWOOD – Lancaster High senior running back Jamias Clark’s “shot” in this Kansas Shootout left the Bruins standing tall and proud in a thrilling 13-10 Region IV-AAAA football road win over Blythewood on Friday night.
Clark capped the LHS comeback victory, blasting through a right-side hole on a five-yard sprint to lift the Bruins, 6-2, 1-1, to the three-point win in overtime, also known as a Kansas Shootout.
Clark, who ran for 105 yards, including the final nine yards on a pair of OT carries on the rainy night, lauded the offensive line’s surge on the pivotal play.
“They gave me a tremendous hole and I just shot through it,” Clark said. “When I got the ball, the hole was there and I had to get there quick.”
LHS coach Bennie McMurray said the winning play was a result of execution.
“It was a power play and we executed it well,” McMurray said. “We blocked it well and created a running lane and Jamias hit it hard. It was run the way we draw it up.”
Clark’s touchdown scamper capped a crucial late surge by the Bruins, who trailed 7-0 in the waning stages of the game.
On the opening series of the second half, Blythewood ace running back C.J. Edwards dashed 53 yards for a touchdown. Aaron Mayes’ conversion gave the Bengals, 4-3, 1-1, a 7-0 lead.
The tight contest stayed the same until late in the game when Bruins’ senior defensive back Brion Strothers recovered a muffed punt at the BHS 23.
“We say each week that our offense, defense and special teams – the big three – have to make key plays,” McMurray said. “Tonight, they did. Brion had the key recovery and then our offense responded with a big opportunity. Our defense kept us in it the whole game. They bent, but never broke.”
Five plays after Strothers’ recovery, LHS quarterback Matt Reese powered into the end zone from a yard out with 1:45 to play. The game-tying drive was highlighted by a Zed Truesdale 12-yard run to the Bengals’ three on a third-and-two snap. After Reese’s score, Anna Funderburk came on to drill the clutch extra point to tie the game at 7-all.
The Bengals threatened with a Hail Mary deep into LHS territory on the game’s final snap, but time expired to force OT.
In the extra period, BHS’s Edwards, who ran for 190 yards, bolted to the LHS four to open the series, but then he was stopped twice for no gain, including a big-time tackle from Bruins’ senior lineman William Kirkland on third down.
Mayes came on to drill a 23-yard field goal to give the Bengals what would be a short-lived lead.
On the Bruins’ first snap, Truesdale gained a yard, then Clark followed with a four-yard run to the five before reaching the end zone on third down to ignite a LHS celebration.
“We hung in there and fought,” Clark said. “Our defense played a tremendous game and if it wasn’t for them, we don’t go to overtime. In the overtime after they kicked the field goal, I knew our offensive line was going to get it done. This was a team win.”
McMurray said it was a matter of making plays.
“We found a way to win tonight,” McMurray said. “We had that will to win, something we’ve talked about since last summer.
“We’re one step closer to the playoffs which is something we’ve been working on.”
The win puts the Bruins in position to produce their first winning season since 2001, the year prior to their last playoff campaign.
LHS continues region road play Friday with a visit to Rock Hill, a 49-14 winner over Spring Valley. The Bearcats are 7-1, 2-0 in region play.
u Contact sports editor Robert Howey at 283-1157