The Raymore-Peculiar Panthers were on the road for a second week in a row Friday night taking on yet another undefeated, state-ranked team. This time Ray-Pec (2-3) was facing the Lee’s Summit Tigers (5-0) at their homecoming at Lee’s Summit High School.
Last year, the Panthers destroyed the Tigers 41-0. In fact, prior to Friday night’s game, Lee’s Summit had only defeated Ray-Pec once in the last five years. This year, however, Lee’s Summit has a chip on its shoulder.
The Tigers broke into the state rankings last week and are poised to make a run in Districts. Lee’s Summit has not gotten out of the first round of the District tournament in the last three years.
With a full house and a homecoming spirit in the air, the game started off with a bang for the Tigers who scored on their first possession. Casey Slaughter, Lee’s Summit’s senior running back, plowed through the Panthers’ defense on a fourth-and-short to get the touchdown.
Slaughter is a tough, grind-it-out running back who was able to crash the ball up the middle for the Tigers all night. He finished with 33 carries for 161 yards and three touchdowns.
Lee’s Summit junior quarterback, Drew Lock, has been highly spoken of this season and mostly lived up to the hype Friday night. Though merely watching his performance wouldn’t necessarily astound anyone, the numbers never lie — and his were very good. The junior completed 23 of 33 passes, throwing for over 300 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored a rushing touchdown just before halftime.
After the Panthers allowed the Tigers to strike first blood, Ray-Pec went on a 21-0 run that stunned the home team.
Senior running back Steve Brown got the scoring started for Raymore-Peculiar, breaking free from the Lee’s Summit defense on a hand-off, taking the ball 47 yards down the field for a touchdown score. Seven minutes later, quarterback Reed Davis threw an end zone pass to the Panthers’ Scotty Schaffner. The pass was a little short, but Schaffner was able to maneuver around the defender to make the touchdown reception.
Ray-Pec did not seem surprised to come onto the Tigers’ field and get a lead early. Perhaps credit is due to the upset win at Rock Bridge last week, but regardless the visitors seemed very confident in their play throughout the first half.
Junior running back Logan Moore kept the scoring going in the first half for the Panthers, making a 51-yard rushing touchdown midway through the second quarter.
The two teams headed to the locker rooms with the score set at 21-14 in favor of Raymore-Peculiar.
The Tigers got the ball first in the second half and moved the ball down the field with ease. The final two quarters did not feature very solid defense by either team and the game came down to a battle of offenses and the fortune of having possession of the ball last.
After Lee’s Summit scored a touchdown and a field goal to began the second half, Ray-Pec found themselves trailing once again by a score of 24-21.
The drive that led to the Tiger field goal was started by a Lee’s Summit kickoff that did not go very far. The home team’s kicker was not launching the ball very far down field all night and this one in particular stayed in the air long enough for his team to get down field and grab the bouncing ball that was deflected off of a member of Ray-Pec.
“Obviously the momentum swing in the third quarter was huge,” said Panthers head coach Tom Kruse after the game.
“We made some mistakes in special teams and that hurt.”
A Steve Brown fumble gave the Tigers the ball back and put the Panther defense in a tough position, though they were able to hold on and force the punt. Isaiah Truss put Raymore-Peculiar in good field position with a long rush and quarterback Davis scored on a keeper at the start of the fourth quarter.
Lock took matters in his own hands to get the lead back for Lee’s Summit by going to the air game. The junior was able to connect with senior Levi Fountain on a beautiful throw down the Tigers sideline for a touchdown score.
Reed Davis, however, was able to answer back with a beauty of his own. On the next drive, Davis tossed an arching pass in Schaffner’s direction down the Ray-Pec sideline. Schaffner caught the ball over his shoulder and put his team in field goal position. Sophomore James Sappington drilled a 37-yarder to tie the game at 31.
The fourth quarter was hardly getting started, though, as the two teams would combine for 37 points in the final twelve minutes.
“We’d made some plays defensively, then we made some plays offensively, and then we made some plays on special teams,” Kruse said.
“And all three of those phases are ones where we made mistakes down the stretch.”
Lock took to the air again for the Tigers with just under three minutes to go in the game, finding a gap in the Panthers’ secondary and connecting with Fountain again for the score.
A good run back on the kickoff by Steve Brown and a couple of Lee’s Summit penalties put Ray-Pec in the perfect position to tie the game with time running off the clock. With 59 seconds remaining, Truss scored another touchdown and Dallas Hille made the extra point to lock the game up at 38 apiece.
Just when it looked like the game might go to overtime, a short toss from Lock to Fountain turned into a huge gain as the senior wideout found a seam and burst down the sideline, being pushed out of bounds inside of the 10-yard line. Fountain finished with 196 yards on seven receptions.
Slaughter eventually pounded the ball into the end zone for the Tigers to win the game for his team, 44-38.
After the game, Coach Kruse told his squad that no one unit was to blame and that it was a “team loss.”
“I thought our effort was good. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Lee’s Summit,” Kruse stated.
“We’re going to go back to work. We’re going to practice hard and find a way to get a homecoming win for ourselves.”
The Panthers take on St. Joseph Central High School in their homecoming game on October 4.