Both Lee’s Summit and Raymore-Peculiar left the other team too much time to score Sept. 27.
The Panthers answered a Lee’s Summit 20-yard touchdown pass from Drew Lock to Levi Fountain with a touchdown run by Isaiah Truss from five yards out with a tick under a minute left in the game.
From their own 28, Lock again connected with Fountain, who shook three Panther defenders and raced down to the 10. From there, Casey Slaughter punched it into the end zone on two runs with 27.1 seconds left to keep the Tigers undefeated (5-0 overall, 2-0 conference) with a 44-38 homecoming win.
“We just threw it out there and said, ‘Hey, make sure you can get out of bounds,’” Tigers head coach Eric Thomas said. “He broke a tackle and took off. Casey getting it into the end zone was big so we didn’t have to worry about a field goal. We won the last week with a field goal, but a touchdown is much better.”
Slaughter carried the ball 33 times for 161 yards and three touchdowns.
The Tigers sealed the game by recovering the squib kick.
“This one’s a tough one because we had made some plays defensively, then we made some plays offensively, and then we made some plays in the special teams,” Ray-Pec head coach Tom Kruse said, “and all three of those phases are the ones that made some mistakes down the stretch. It’s a tough loss. I thought our effort was good. I have to give a lot of credit to Lee’s Summit. It’s a good football team and they made plays down the stretch.”
LSHS recovered two onside kicks and almost got another. The first recovery came in the third quarter.
Ray-Pec (2-3, 0-3) took a 21-14 lead into halftime, but the Tigers came out with a flurry. They took 11 plays to drive 80 yards to tie the game at 21 with 6:33 remaining in the third and then Zach Mitchell picked up a short kickoff, which led to a 28-yard field goal by Travis Simonin for a 24-21 Tiger lead.
“I think obviously the momentum swing in the third quarter was huge – the little pooch onside kick,” Kruse said. “We made some mistakes in special teams and that hurt.”
“We were just trying to be aggressive,” Thomas said. “The big thing is (Ray-Pec has) three great returners back there and we knew we didn’t want to put it to them. We worked on it all week and our guys came through and made some plays on it.”
The two teams traded touchdowns to make it a 31-28 Tiger advantage, a 1-yard run by Ray-Pec quarterback Reed Davis and a 29-yard Lock-to-Fountain connection.
James Sappington knotted the game at 31-31 on a 37-yard field goal with 6:42 left in the fourth.
The ground game carried the Panthers offensively, led by Steve Brown with 139 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Isaiah Truss picked up 91 yards and a score on 11 carries.
“(Brown and Truss) feed off each other,” Kruse said. “I can’t say enough good things about the way we blocked up front. I thought our blocking game was solid. They’re two good backs, and each time they carry it they want to do something special.”
Brown got Ray-Pec on the board in the first quarter with four straight carries that took the Panthers from their own 28 to pay dirt, capped off with a 48-yarder to tie the game 7-7.
Davis threw to Scotty Schaffner for a 4-yard touchdown and Logan Moore made it 21-7 for Ray-Pec on a 49-yard scamper in the second quarter.
Lock completed 23 of his 33 passes for 306 yards. He also ran for a score. His favorite receiver on the night: Fountain with seven receptions, 196 yards and caught both aerial touchdowns.
However, the most important catch didn’t find the end zone. But the 62-yard grab-and-run put the Tigers in a position to win with time winding down.
“Our kids have won three like this now,” Thomas said. “They just can’t quit. They just keep fighting. They’re battling. They have a belief in each other. They have a belief they can win. They have a belief that they can pull anything out.
“We shouldn’t have won that game probably, but give credit to Ray-Pec. They had a great plan offensively and defensively. We just found a way to get it done at the end. Drew Lock grew up tonight. We had a couple of receivers grow up and Casey carrying the load down the stretch. Just a great game.”